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In early December 2011, Lowe's Home Improvement stores decided to pull its advertising on TLC's All-American Muslim, a reality show featuring five families living in the Detroit area. Little did it know that a firestorm of epic proportions would ensue.
Lowe's faced a public appeal from the Florida Family Association over its ads, stating that the show did not uphold traditional American values. Internal corporate memos suggest the decision to pull the ads came before the FFA's protest, but the timing of it all likely could not have been worse. Howls of disapproval blanketed social media. Lowe's posted a public apology to its Facebook page, only to delete it when over 28,000 comments were posted, many of which were vitriolic in tone. Interestingly, commentors were polarized, with some harshly criticizing Lowe's, and the others heavily in support of it.
Lowe's followed up with a second apology, which by the 21st of December had prompted over 13,000 responses. Thousands more comments appeared on Twitter under the hashtag #loweshatesmuslims, which Lowe's was entirely unable to remove. These comments were even more accusatory.
We invite you to take a survey about the matter. Regardless of your opinion, we value your insights. This will go down as a classic example of how or how not to handle crisis communications.
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