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Lowe's Faces Backlash After Withdrawing Advertising From "All-American Muslim"

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Retail giant Lowe’s (LOW) has raised a storm of national controversy, with many calling for a boycott of the store, after it made the decision to pull advertising from All-American Muslims, a reality show that looks into the lives of six Muslim families that live in a predominantly Muslim suburb of Michigan.
Lowe’s decided to end its advertising on the program -- which is broadcast on TLC, a subsidiary of Discovery Communications (DISCA) -- when a conservative group called the Florida Family Association asked its members to petition the company to do, on the grounds that it was inappropriate for Lowe’s to advertise on a program that was "propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda's clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values."
“Clearly this program is attempting to manipulate Americans into ignoring the threat of jihad and to influence them to believe that being concerned about the jihad threat would somehow victimize these nice people in this show,” said the group.
The company is now facing severe backlash over what has been perceived as pandering to bigots. California state senator Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) was one who was pondering a boycott of the chain, saying that its decision was “un-American” and “naked religious bigotry.”
"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, according to the LA Times.
Reacting to the backlash, Lowe’s released a statement on Sunday that apologized for the unhappiness caused by its action, though it did not say if it would be reinstating advertising on the show.
"Individuals and groups have strong political and societal views on this topic, and this program became a lightning rod for many of those views," the statement said. "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."
While debate continues over whether or not Lowe’s should reinstate advertising on the show, it seems that All-American Muslim is not quite as entertaining as its sideshow. In a review of the program, the New York Times said that “the show is so focused on teaching that it goes for long stretches without entertaining.” Perhaps the Florida Family Association is offended by what, as Variety describes, the show offers: “public service by putting a humanizing face on the religion amid persistent and even politically sanctioned Islamophobia.”
Advertising pullouts, of course, are as American as apple pie. In 2009, African American advocacy group, Color of Change, urged advertisers like Walmart (WMT), Sprint (S), AT&T (T), Bank of America (BAC), General Mills (GIS) and Procter & Gamble (PG) to withdraw or pledge not to advertise on Glenn Beck’s show on Fox News after the loose-tongued personality said that President Obama harbored a “deep-seated hatred for white people.”
It’s not always political issues that trigger these advertising protests too. Earlier this year, the vacuum-cleaning company Hoover pledged to withdraw all advertising from ABC to protest the cancellation of the network’s long-running soaps, All My Children and One Life to Live, but the Disney (DIS) -owned network stuck to its guns and pulled the trigger on the two low-rated daytime soaps.
(See also: Finally, Muslim Americans Get a Reality Show of Their Own)
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.