LOS ANGELES TIMES: Lowe’s faces backlash after pulling ads from ‘All-American Muslim’

December 13, 2011

By Shan Li / Los Angeles Times
LOS ANGELES — Home improvement giant Lowe’s Cos. continues to come under heavy criticism from activists, some politicians and customers after pulling its ads from a reality TV show featuring American Muslims.

The North Carolina company decided to stop advertising on the show “All-American Muslim,” on Discovery Communications Inc.’s TLC channel, following complaints by the Florida Family Association, a conservative Christian group that lobbies companies to promote “traditional, biblical values.”

The association praised the move, but the decision sparked immediate backlash. California state Sen. Ted Lieu, a Democrat, called the move “bigoted, shameful and un-American.” A petition on SignOn.org that calls on companies to keep advertising on the show has gathered more than 13,000 signatures. Activist and actress Mia Farrow joined the battle in a Twitter post and urged a boycott of Lowe’s.

In its defense, Lowe’s spokeswoman Karen Cobb said the company had a “long-standing commitment” to diversity and pulled the ads only after the show became “a lightning rod for people to voice complaints from a variety of perspectives.” Other companies had also removed their ads from the show, she wrote in an email.

“All-American Muslim,” which debuted last month, follows the day-to-day lives of five Muslim families in Dearborn, Mich., a suburb of Detroit with a large Muslim population. Cast members talk about how their faith affects their actions and choices.

The conservative Christian group, based in Tampa, Fla., called the show “propaganda” that “hides the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values.” The organization began an email campaign urging companies to yank their advertising off the show. The group did not respond to an email Monday requesting comment on the reaction to its effort.

Laurie Goldberg, a spokeswoman for the Discovery Network and TLC Network, declined to comment on whether any companies besides Lowe’s had pulled their ads. “We stand behind the show ‘All-American Muslim,’ and we’re happy the show has strong advertising support,” she wrote in an email.