Home  › Marketing › Strategies

Lowe's Brouhaha: Muslim Marketing Players React

  |  December 17, 2011   |  Comments

It's a "teachable moment," they say.

The social media firestorm produced by Lowe's decision to end its TV ads for TLC's "All-American Muslim" program was red-hot all last week. The retailer halted the spots in response to an e-mail campaign by a conservative Christian group in Florida.

Numerous upset consumers have tweeted "#Loweshatesconsumers" in the past few days. A "Boycott Lowe's Home Improvement" Facebook page has attracted 6,000 likes. So-called Occupy Lowe's protests are being planned around the country for this weekend. Others have taken to social media to support Lowe's right to pull the ads, sometimes utilizing nationalistic rhetoric that has fomented against Muslims and Middle Easterners in general since 9/11.

Lowe's has since apologized for the way it's handled the advertising controversy. Travel site Kayak has found itself in a similar conundrum, after deciding to quit advertising on "All-American Muslim."

Lisa Mabe is founder of Hewar Social Communications, a Muslim marketing and public relations agency based in Washington, DC. Speaking with ClickZ about the Lowe's embroilment, Mabe sounded cautiously optimistic that the brand can repair its relationship with American Muslims through digital and traditional media channels.

"It may take Lowe's a long time to clean up the mess they’ve made," she said. "Despite the current outlook, the retailer now has a big opportunity to reestablish itself as a company that welcomes and values all customers, while trying to rebuild a relationship with the Muslim community."

There's no doubt that Lowe's was put in a strange situation after the Florida Family Association orchestrated its email campaign. The Mooresville, NC-based retail chain probably never imagined a TV spot on the cable channel TLC could create such a brouhaha.

Whatever one might say about its reaction in pulling ads from "All-American Muslim," it appears to have been a business decision based on the idea of not offending the Christian segment of its customer audience. It's impossible to currently know whether stopping the ads created more brand haters among American Muslims or appeased a greater number of Christian loyalists who were opposed to the TLC show.

Speaking with ClickZ, Sabiha Ansari, a rep for American Muslim Consumer conferences, cited a joint study by Ogilvy & Mather, JWT, and DinarStandard that recently found American Muslims skew young and educated with a spending power of $170 billion. Ansari said another Ogilvy study found that 86 percent of American Muslims who identified themselves as "extremely brand loyal" felt neglected by companies.

"Any company has the right to decide where to put their advertising dollars, but not sure in this case that Lowe's made a sound business decision," she said. "[Perhaps] a little empathy…would have made a great difference and better business sense."

Mabe suggested that firms can learn from cases like Lowe's in how they approach culturally sensitive issues. "[It] represents a big teachable moment for other retailers and brands as they slowly but surely start to see the value in reaching America’s growing minority and multicultural consumer groups," she said. "This particular instance validates that not only are Muslim consumers important for what they buy, but they’re also important for what they don't buy."

Meanwhile, it will be intriguing to watch Lowe's social media messaging in the coming days. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and company blogs have become popular business tools when it comes to damage control. Some 20 months after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, BP continues to leverage its YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter accounts to rehabilitate its maligned brand.

Tags:

ClickZ Live San Francisco This Year's Premier Digital Marketing Event is #CZLSF
ClickZ Live San Francisco (Aug 11-14) brings together the industry's leading practitioners and marketing strategists to deliver 4 days of educational sessions and training workshops. From Data-Driven Marketing to Social, Mobile, Display, Search and Email, this year's comprehensive agenda will help you maximize your marketing efforts and ROI. Register today!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Christopher Heine

Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get the ClickZ Marketing newsletter delivered to you. Subscribe today!

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

BigDoor: The Marketers Guide to Customer Loyalty

The Marketer's Guide to Customer Loyalty
Customer loyalty is imperative to success, but fostering and maintaining loyalty takes a lot of work. This guide is here to help marketers build, execute, and maintain a successful loyalty initiative.

Marin Software: The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising

The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search & Social Advertising
Latest research reveals 68% higher revenue per conversion for marketers who integrate their search & social advertising. In addition to the research results, this whitepaper also outlines 5 strategies and 15 tactics you can use to better integrate your search and social campaigns.

WEBINARS

    Information currently unavailable

Jobs

    • Internet Marketing Campaign Manager
      Internet Marketing Campaign Manager (Straight North, LLC) - Fort MillWe are looking for a talented Internet Marketing Campaign Manager to join the...
    • Online Marketing Coordinator
      Online Marketing Coordinator (NewMarket Health) - BaltimoreWant to learn marketing from the best minds in the business? NewMarket Health, a subsidiary...
    • Call Center Manager
      Call Center Manager (Common Sense Publishing) - Delray BeachWanted: Dynamic Call Center Manager with a Proven Track Record of Improving Response...