Where you advertise says a lot about your brand message. Remember when millions of dollars in advertising was pulled from spots on Glen Beck’s Fox show? Creating a successful marketing campaign is more than just building a brand, creating some advertisements that target your audience. It’s not just about placing those ads in the magazines that your audience reads and the tv shows they watch. Success brand marketing is also about maintaining a consistency in advertising when you choose which tv shows to buy ad space on, and how you respond when it doesn’t go your way.
Lowe’s and TLC’s “All-American Muslim”
Recently, Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse ran an ad campaign on TLC’s new reality show “All-American Muslim.” The show, which premiered last month, followed the lives of five Muslim families from a Detroit suburb. As part of the advertising contract with TLC, Lowe’s commercials ran during this new show.
While Home Depot targets contractors and the men in the family, Lowe’s has always been a bit more for the DIY mom’s in the household. With that target demographic in mind, TLC is the perfect market to run advertisements for those stay-at-home moms. However, the latest ad that ran during “All American Muslim” has created quite a controversy.
After the ad began running, the Florida Family Association started running boycott ads on their website, stating that the new TLC show promoted Islamic extremism and Lowe’s should pull their advertising immediately. What would you do?
Lowe’s pulled their ads from the show, but that wasn’t where the controversy ended. In fact, that was what fueled the fire. After pulling advertising from “All-American Muslim,” Lowe’s took heat from everyone, including U.S. State Senators.
Calling the Lowe's decision "un-American" and "naked religious bigotry," Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, told The Associated Press he would also consider legislative action if Lowe's doesn't apologize to Muslims and reinstate its ads. The senator sent a letter outlining his complaints to Lowe's Chief Executive Officer Robert A. Niblock.
"The show is about what it's like to be a Muslim in America, and it touches on the discrimination they sometimes face. And that kind of discrimination is exactly what's happening here with Lowe's," Lieu said. (NYDailyNews.com)
Facebook Brand Reputation Management
Reputation management, especially in situations like this, is paramount, and social media is the perfect platform. In fact, before I even heard about the Lowe’s controversy and how they pulled their advertisement, I saw their apology from their Facebook Page and the nearly 2,000 comments, 1,650 Likes, and 335 Shares it got.
It appears that we managed to step into a hotly contested debate with strong views from virtually every angle and perspective – social, political and otherwise – and we’ve managed to make some people very unhappy. We are sincerely sorry. We have a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion, across our workforce and our customers, and we’re proud of that longstanding commitment.
Lowe’s has received a significant amount of communication on this program, from every perspective possible. Individuals and groups have strong political and societal views on this topic, and this program became a lighting rod for many of those views. As a result we did pull our advertising on this program. We believe it is best to respectfully defer to communities, individuals and groups to discuss and consider such issues of importance.
We strongly support and respect the right of our customers, the community at large, and our employees to have different views. If we have made anyone question that commitment, we apologize. (Lowe's FB Page)
Thank you for allowing us to further explain our position.
Unfortunately, it seems from most of the responses that people are neither impressed nor satisfied with Lowe’s reasons for pulling the ad. In fact, this apology has done nothing to ‘fix’ their reputation problem, it probably made it worse.
The half-hearted apology has drawn criticism from the media as well. ThinkProgress.com titled their Lowe’s piece: “The Cowardice of Lowe’s, and the Bigotry of “All-American Muslim” Bashers.” USNews.com ran “Lowe’s Intolerant for Pulling Ads From ‘All-American Muslim.’”
Where did Lowe’s go wrong? First off, whoever was in charge of the TLC advertising campaign dropped the ball by not letting the ad run in the first place. However, let’s assume that Lowe’s didn’t expect a backlash for running the ad, which we all know was part of the plan. They should have let the ad run through the contract. But, since they pulled the ad they are responsible for not only explaining why, but doing so by remaining consistent to their brand message and integrity. It seems they are failing on all fronts. And with it’s overall sales numbers falling dramatically to Home Depot’s, the reputation strategies that Lowe’s has chosen to take have been interesting.