Lowe’s deals “low” blow to the marketing and advertising industry

Withdrawing ads from television programs is a very slippery slope and really hurts the marketing and advertising industry as well as the companies who participate in these types of actions.

Recently The Florida Family Association who lobbies to withdraw ads from shows like  Degrassi, Modern Family, Family Guy and Dancing With the Stars, among others.  has recently convinced Lowe’s  to  withdrawn commercials from “All-American Muslim,” a new series on the TLC cable channel. “All-American Muslim,” follows the lives of a handful of Muslim families living around Dearborn, Mich.  “All-American Muslim” has drawn an average-size audience on TLC on Sundays, typically a very competitive night on television. The series started out in mid-November with 1.7 million viewers, but subsequent episodes have been seen by about one million viewers.

The Florida Family Association has attacked the series as propaganda that obscures “the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values.” The Florida Family Association says 65 companies have left the show since it began urging advertisers to withdraw their support. Among those that have were Kayak, the travel Web site, and Lowe’s, the home-improvement retailer. Source

Lowe’s has been under relentless fire from critics since it announced its decision on Saturday to stop advertising in “All-American Muslim.” The dispute is filling up the Lowe’s fan page  on Facebook; more than 24,000 comments posted as of last week.

Companies periodically pull spots from controversial television and radio shows, but Lowe’s action has drawn loud criticism from elected officials, civic leaders and advertising professionals. The company, which says that it was never their  intent to alienate anyone,” is also dealing with the threat of boycotts from Muslim Americans.

The whole incident is clearly a major step backward for diversity, inclusion and engagement, and a blow to the advertising industry.

Lowe’s has now set the precedent that they will bow to pressure & campaigns from groups like the Florida Family Association. Other groups will now feel empowered & expect the same results.

Bill Imada, chairman and CEO of the IW Group in New York feels that “All-American Muslim” may survive Lowe’s move, but the retailer should have remained steadfast in its advertising support. Weighing options in a crisis like this can be difficult, but before pulling an ad, he states marketers and advertisers might follow these guidelines:

  • Don’t feel pressured to make an immediate decision. Consider all possibilities, keeping in mind that any action could have the opposite effect of what you are trying to accomplish.
  • Talk with the advertising and media agencies that created, planned and placed the ad. They may have contingency plans to mitigate potential problems.
  • Implement your company’s crisis communications plan by talking with internal stakeholders, including advertising, marketing, legal, public relations, communications, media relations and management teams. If you don’t have a plan, have your communications-public relations team develop one.
  • Engage key external stakeholder groups — which may support your ad — in tandem with your management, legal and communications/public relations teams.
  • Instruct your work force to direct all comments and inquiries about the issue to those responsible for communicating with customers, the media, and the public and public officials.
  • Talk with the broadcast station or network, to see if the matter can be addressed in a way that satisfies the needs of the advertiser, the station/network and the programmer.
  • Turn a negative situation into a constructive one. Lowe’s could lead by example, inviting all parties to a conference or another event dealing with diversity, inclusion and engagement. And companies should support broadcasts that facilitate the exchange of ideas and different viewpoints.

What is your take on companies pulling ads when pressured by an interest group?