In trying to avoid a controversy last week, it seems the home improvement company Lowe’s sawed its way into a bigger one. From the looks of it Lowe’s had good intentions when it signed on to advertise on TLC’s “All-American Muslim Family,” a show which profiles the day-to-day lives of several families of Muslim faith in Michigan. But the company bowed to growing pressure from an influential anti-Muslim group to yank its advertising from the show. The move was provocative, generating strong reactions from people who either decried or supported the decision on Facebook and other social media.
We believe Lowe’s has the right to advertise wherever the company sees fit. And while we don’t presume to know all the inside information in a hypersensitive situation such as this one, Lowe’s was indeed caught between a rock and hard place because the negative publicity the anti-Muslim group had generated around the show’s advertising was already beginning to compromise its image. The anti-Muslim group was essentially waiting to pounce on Lowe’s and other advertisers knowing that in the post-September 11 America we live in it could galvanize support for its views.
However, criticism against Lowe’s actions continues to grow, so much so that the company is now deleting negative comments from its Facebook page. The key take-away from this situation is that companies need to be very clear about the pros and cons of the mediums they spend their public relations and advertising monies. This comes in handy when they need to defend their decisions or have a change of heart. Lastly, remember that choosing a thoughtful communications approach and sticking with it supersedes experimenting with social media without alternative plans in place should a campaign backfire. We are hoping Lowe’s will roll out an effective plan to help remedy this controversy.