Blogs & Comment

Lowe’s pulls ads from show about American Muslims, but isn’t alone

Other big-name companies have cancelled ads based on requests from the same anti-Muslim, anti-gay group.


Photo: TLC

­­­Lowe’s Home Improvement has been taking some serious heat after pulling ads from a show about American Muslims, following a complaint from the Florida Family Association. The neoconservative group said the show’s problem is that it “profiles only Muslims that appear to be ordinary folks.”

Seriously. That’s the FFA’s beef.

According to a blog post on the association’s website, “The Learning Channel’s new show All-American Muslim is propaganda clearly designed to counter legitimate and present-day concerns about many Muslims who are advancing Islamic fundamentalism and Sharia law.”

Either that or, you know, a good chunk of the 1.6-billion Muslims on this planet are, in fact, “ordinary folks.”

This sort of hate speech is common among family values groups in America, but what’s more shocking is the number of big-name companies that actually respond positively to the FFA’s requests.

Let’s start with Lowe’s. It pulled its ads, and delivered this defence:

“Individuals and groups have strong political and societal views on this topic, and this program became a lightning rod for many of those views. As a result, we did pull our advertising. We believe it is best to respectfully defer to communities, individuals and groups to discuss and consider such issues of importance.”

Of course, by “respectfully” deferring to a right-wing advocacy group, the company has become the lightning rod it allegedly wished to distance itself from.

The FFA also claims that 65 of the advertisers it targeted didn’t advertise again in two of the most recent episodes of All-American Muslim. That doesn’t, however, mean that all 65 (assuming that number is correct) were responding to FFA’s requests.

But alas, the association credits companies for not re-advertising following its complaints, even when the companies have not contacted them—which is most of the time. It goes without saying that many of these complaints likely have nothing to do with certain ads no longer playing.

But some have responded, and FFA posts these responses online, which I’ll get to in a minute.

All-American Muslim is not the only show the group targets; unsurprisingly, it also has a homophobic bent. Apparently, Degrassi, another show whose advertisers the group targets, “promotes the transgender and homosexual lifestyles and other inappropriate behavior to an audience made up of almost exclusively teens and children.”

Here are a few of the companies and their responses to various FFA requests, all of which are posted on the association’s website:

Home Depot (All-American Muslim)

“We checked into this and although one of our commercials did appear during one of these episodes, we are not a sponsor of this show and we do not have any advertising scheduled to run on future episodes.”

Macy’s (Degrassi)

“We are reminding our suppliers that they should carefully review the programs where their ads are scheduled to run…. I doubt you will be seeing any ads tagged with a Macy’s logo on the show.”

Cumberland Packaging Corp., maker of Sweet’N Low(All-American Muslim)

“We would like you to know that we did not deliberately select this program…. We are not a sponsor of the program nor do we have ads scheduled to run on future episodes. We are a family run business and we appreciate feedback from consumers like you, as it is helpful in our planning.”

Zoom Tan (Pretty Little Liars, for depicting lesbians)

“I had to cancel the entire ABC family station to get my commercials off Pretty Little Liars. I don’t know when it will take effect exactly but I am sure it will be this week. I won’t always cancel an entire channel to stop our random rotators from appearing on certain shows.” –Tony Toepfer, president

General Mills (Pretty Little Liars)

We have investigated this matter and confirmed that our advertising did air as you have reported. We have informed ABC Family Channel and our agencies that Pretty Little Liars is not a program that we will sponsor.”

(Followed up by:)

“My earlier email to you may have been misinterpreted.

While this particular program is not one we sponsor, the sexual orientation of the characters was not a factor in that decision. General Mills does not make advertising placement decisions based on the sexual orientation of characters.”

Re/Max (Pretty Little Liars)

“We have looked into this situation and discovered that while we purchase advertising on this cable station, we do not purchase advertising on that particular show. We have informed our media company to be sure to reference our list of shows that we do not want to advertise on…. This show is on the list.  This should not happen again.”

Colgate-Palmolive (Degrassi)

“The Colgate advertisement that appeared during this program was aired without our knowledge or consent. We have communicated with those responsible for coordinating our advertisement placement to ensure that this not happen again….

“For placement on television, Colgate carefully considers the content of the on-air programming. We do not advertise on shows that contain programming that insults, ridicules, or denigrates people because of their age, gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, ethnicity, physical or mental health. While we do not have control over the scripts of any television show, we exclude programs that we consider to be offensive, or in bad taste, or which could stimulate anti-social behavior through viewer imitation. Programs are also scrutinized for gratuitous violence and sexual content.”