Lowe's stands by decision to pull ads

| 15 Feb 2012 | 10:39

    NEW YORK — Lowe's is planning to stick by its decision to yank its ads from a reality TV show about American Muslims despite the growing opposition the home improvement chain is facing over the move. Lowe's stopped running commercials during “All-American Muslim" after a conservative group known as the Florida Family Association e-mailed companies to ask them to stop advertising on the show. The group said the program is “propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda's clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values." Florida Family Association, based in Tampa, Fla., said that more than 60 advertisers that it e-mailed, from Amazon to McDonald's, have also stopped advertising on the show. But so far, Lowe's is the only major company to confirm that it pulled ads. California Sen. Ted Lieu put a statement out on Sunday that he is considering calling for a boycott of Lowe's. On Twitter, actor Kal Penn directed people to a petition on signon.org in support of “All-American Muslim." By Monday afternoon, there were about 9,200 signatures. On Monday, U.S. Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota, who is Muslim, released a statement condemning Lowe's for choosing “to uphold the beliefs of a fringe hate group and not the creed of The First Amendment." And Democratic state Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Detroit, the first Muslim elected to the Michigan Legislature, voiced her concerns directly with the company. She wrote a letter to Lowe's CEO Robert Niblock. “I told them I was extremely disappointed that you give credibility to these hate groups," Tlaib said. “People of Muslim faith are being attacked. It's disappointing, disheartening." Meanwhile, Lowe's, based in Mooresville, N.C., said it stands by its Sunday statement that it pulled the ads after the show became a “lightning rod for people to voice complaints from a variety of perspectives - political, social and otherwise." “All-American Muslim" premiered last month and chronicles the lives of five families who live in and near Dearborn, Mich., a Detroit suburb with a large Muslim and Arab-American population. It airs on Mondays on TLC and ends its first season on Jan. 8. Branding expert Laura Ries said Lowe's made two mistakes. The first was advertising during a show that could be construed as controversial. The second was pulling advertising too quickly. “For a big national brand like Lowe's, they've always got to be incredibly careful when advertising during any show that could be deemed controversial," she said. “Will it seriously damage the brand in the long term? Probably not. But it is a serious punch in the stomach." Analysts said the furor is unlikely to damage Lowe's brand in the long term. “For a company that generates $50 billion in annual revenue, I don't view this as something that will have a meaningful impact," said Morningstar analyst Peter Wahlstrom.