In a letter to Lowe’s the advocacy group Florida Family Association wrote:
The show profiles only [Jews] that appear to be ordinary folks while excluding many [Jewish] believers whose agenda poses a clear and present danger to the liberties and traditional values that the majority of Americans cherish.
One of the most troubling scenes occurred at the introduction of the program when a [Jewish] police officer stated “I really am American. No ifs and or buts about it.” This scene would appear to be damage control for the Dearborn Police who have arrested numerous Christians including several former [Jew]s for peacefully preaching Christianity.
Many situations were profiled in the show from a [Jewish] tolerant perspective while avoiding the perspective that would have created [Jewish] conflict thereby contradicting The Learning Channel’s agenda to inaccurately portray [Jew]s in America.
Clearly this program is attempting to manipulate Americans into ignoring the threat of [posed by the Elders of Zion] and to influence them to believe that being concerned about the [the Jewish] threat would somehow victimize these nice people in this show.
I encourage you to stop supporting this show with your advertising dollars.
Okay, so “Jews, Jewish and Elders of Zion” aren’t exactly in the letter, and no Lowe’s is not hating “Jews.” I put that stuff in there to drive home a point.
But Lowe’s does hate Muslims, or at least the “#loweshatesmuslims” hash tag is currently replacing Lowe’s tagline of “Let’s Build Something Together.” (Disclosure- I am a Lowe’s fan, I buy there and I like their corporate strategy, I can’t say if I own stocks, but if I do I will consider pulling out if this is not rectified)
So whats Lowe’s response to all of this Muslim hate, where did it start. Lets check out the tweets by Lowe’s-
“We did not pull our ads based solely on the complaints or emails of any one group,” the company said. “It is never our intent to alienate anyone. Lowe’s values diversity of thought in everyone, including our employees and prospective customers.”
Lowe’s you so stupid. First off, by simply doing what I did above, replace Muslim with Jew, Islam with Jewish or whatever is appropriate, you could have saved yourself the public relations disaster that you find yourself in, trust me I know, I worked on creating these public shaming campaigns and I have gotten quite good with them. Second, you admit that Lowe’s did pull ads because it got some bigoted, hateful contacts regarding their advertisement’s during the All-American Muslim TLC reality show.
So having spent the past six years working on these types of campaigns, I have to say the following- Lowes is stupid (STUPID, in capital letters), TLC can really cash in on this and finally whatever anti-All-American Muslim sentiment there might have been within the Muslim community is going to dissipate and manifest itself in full on rage against any company that dares to follow in Lowe’s footsteps.
Lowe’s stupid steps and Primer on Advocacy Strategy
In the US we have something called the Constitution, it governs our country. The Constitution provides primarily the structure of the government, divides its powers into branches- Judiciary, Executive and Congressional- and it further states the functions that those branches operate within. The Constitution has something called the Bill of Rights, these are amendments that were added to the Constitution and ratified by states in order to codify, modify or rectify the original constitution. The first amendment is the foundation stone of our countries values. It gives us a number of things to consider but the two that are important for this discussion are- FREEDOM OF SPEECH and FREEDOM OF RELIGION (also the establishment clause, gov will not favor one religion or another, and the further interpretation of speration of “church and state”).
We have free speech, but just because we have don’t mean all speech is free. No, to the contrary, we regulate speech- there is a time, place and manner you can protest…right? You can’t go into a theater and yell “FIRE!” is another classic framing of limits on free speech. Nor can you get up on a car, point to a synagogue and yell “Get them Jews” along with other inciting language to a crowd in order to attack the Synagogue. These are all types of limits on speech we run into everyday, but speech for the most part is pretty expansive. For instance I can get on the corner of the street to yell in front of a Mega Church that “Rev. James Falwell is the son of Hitler”- it might not be true, it might be insensitive and it probably is not prudent. But he’s a public figure, it’s my opinion and my prerogative. The same is true for…get this…CARTOONS. So yes, a cartoonist can draw Prophet Muhammad with a turban that is a bomb, he hasn’t done anything wrong, in fact I think we as Muslims should cherish his write to do something like that. I don’t think we should encourage it, nor should we condone it, but defenetly ensure that people have access to free speech. (But AFFAD, you totally infringe on peoples rights to free speech when…x, y and z campaign- is what youre thinking?)
Right, so by going after someone for saying something, aren’t you infringing on their freedom of speech? I have helped to create VERY successful campaigns to chastise those who I deem are crossing the line when it comes to the things they are saying. I have worked to teach these fools a lesson on civility and I am proud of that. Our Democracy works not because we all have FREEDOMS, no, its because we have these freedoms that instill in us a great sense of carrying out our responsibilities as well. One of the responsibilities we have as citizens have, is to treat each with equality and that requires civility. Thats the policy argument, here are the mechanics.
A campaign that try’s to target someone’s free speech rights is a tricky campaign indeed. We as Americans don’t want to be seen as limiting rights of others, especially those we disagree with. At the same time when someone does something outrageous and just down right un-American we got to respond somehow. We won’t stand a TV commentator talking anti-Semitic crap on TV, so how is that not infringing on free speech? That tension is where this type of campaign takes shape. It is designed to punish and reward, to marginalize and promote and finally to galvanize around principles. Lets work with a real life example.
For CAIR (I guess for all of you new folks, I worked at CAIR LA for 6 years), Savage was a constant source of material. I think when I got there, CAIR LA had received several years of complaints about the guys anti-Muslim rhetoric on his talk show “Savage Nation.” Being the genre it is, radio talk show hosts are just inflammatory. But after you collect years of juicy material, its going to be only rational that something so juicy will fall into your plate that it requires you to get up and do something with it. Savage also was part of the top three Talk Radio personalities- Rush and Hannity. Out of the 3, Savage was the worst, so when in late November 2007 Savage dropped “Muslims “need deportation“, and Muslims would do well to “take your religion and shove it up your behind” because “I’m sick of you” rant, responding to him with full force was the only rational and responsible thing to do.
We (CAIR) were sick of you to, Savage, and we pounced on the opportunity. Why attack his speech when he would hide his cowardly ass under the “free speech” defense and worse, the guy has a radio show he can use to spread more hate, making Muslims look like we hate free speech when we don’t (actually I cherish it and have taken stances that weren’t to popular with Muslims, read below and see if you find an example). The idea is, use his strengths as his weakness. To fund his show he needs advertisers and listeners- the listeners were not a group we had access to, BUT the advertisers were.
So CAIR sent out a press release calling on Savage to stop his hate. No one is saying he stop his criticism of Islam or Muslims or terrorism or whatever, but to be objective and utilize less stereotyping and hate mongering (I mean, is that hard to ask someone to act professional in his work, I guess when its folks like Savage that seems to be DIFFICULT, its so much easier to present the “I dont give a damn, and I am going to practice my right to hate you!” card). Good for Savage, hate all you want, but when companies are seen “hating” or associated with hating, well that might be something else. So whats so wrong with what he said, yes….here listen below:
(Side note, Glenn and BraveNew Films had their video pulled off of youtube.com and then had a law suit filled by Savage against them, and also CAIR, for bascially profiting off of and using Savage’s copyrighted material, suffice it to say, he lost, CAIR and American values 2, Savage 0- there is so much to say about this particular copyright infringement issue, that it requires its own post, if asked by folks to do so.)
Think about it, in today’s world company brand recognition is a Gazilliondillion Dollar racket
It is estimated that Coca-Cola Inc has a stock value of about 160 billion dollars, with the value of the physical assets being put at around 20 billion dollars. The remaining 140 billion dollars in value is made up of its goodwill. The most valuable intangible that they have is the Coca Cola trademark, the Coca Cola brand. Even if the brand makes up only half of the intangibles of the business then the Brand alone is conservatively worth 70 billion dollars.
The brand is so much more than the Coca-Cola red- its the colors, logo’s, and all the elements of the product or service from the design of the packaging, ingredients (I understand that the coke recipe is a secret that is itself insured and locked away), manufacturing, contracts with celebrities and events and property, along with business ethic, work environment, customer relations, strategic plan and business model. All these things are crafted, perfected- meaning $$$ and future worth. If coke were to be seen as contaminating water in rural villages or employing 6 year old kids in third world countries- we, the consumers, would think twice about wanting to buy Coke given Pepsi presents a upstanding alternative without all that guilt, silly conscience, its a mean world we got no room for good doing.
You want to teach a person a lesson, you attack and manipulate their weakness. Here there were two major weaknesses. Savage could not have a show if there were no advertisers and companies advertising on the Savage Nation would not want to tarnish their manicured corporate image. Now imagine if the video you listened to is attached to your company name, you pay to try to get business, not scare business off because people think you discriminate or whatever.
The Worlds of Weakness Collide and we have a Campaign
In 2007 CAIR issues a letter to Savage telling him to be professional. CAIR than sends letters to advertisers stating their support of the show, their corporate policy along with our concerns.. You ask how we know?- silly folks, thats why we have CAIR interns, they sit for hours over the course of days listening, documenting catagaloguing along with record keeping and researching all things associated with “Savage Nation”- I mean know your enemy or something like that right?)
- a press release which is designed to go out to the press in order to get them to pick up the story (this also includes a very specific media strategy that is developed for each campaign)
- A community announcement that has an action plan (Interns did the research now we use it to provide company names, contacts, talking points)
- Now you also need to develop an independent social media strategy, lots of folks in non-profits and corporations approach social media as regular media, its not, social media requires a totally different type of approach and its one that goes directly to the people not through the filter of professional media and
- maybe if necessary, you have a coalition of folks to support you (clergy, interfaith, other Muslim organizations, ethnic groups, politicians (maybe), masjids…you get the picture) and if you want to control the situation then a strategy needs to be developed for this one as well.
The thing is, you NEVER want to just attack someone, its not Islamic, its not professional and its not good practice (there are exceptions to this rule, there always are, I mean I am in law school, the point of which is to look for loopholes…but those are worth exploring now). The letters sent, you wait. You follow up with a professional call. Once the set deadline has come (even if you know the answer/response) you go public.
With Savage what was amazing was that we didnt have to do much, in fact we used Savage’s own words to 1) push the campaign further, 2) to raise CAIR LA’s profile as a Civil Rights organization in the Muslim community and 3) to shame the companies advertising on the show because they came up with excuses for why they did what they did that made them into innocent by-standers that are cry me a river already you guys have marketing folks that should be giving you better advice when faced with such situations…With Savage, by his own admission on his show to his listeners, CAIR’s campaign had cost him close to $1 million in advertising revenue (talk about SLAP). People who had been calling for years about Savage and complaining about his show to CAIR, now had something they could do, and DO SOMETHING THEY DID.
Tried and True, why re-invent the wheel when you got one?
The outline seems to present a very simplistic “Oh, I can do that” mentality, but having been through it, I do strongly support the notion that this whole thing is an art, from start to finish. To successfully pull it off you not only need a good managing ability but also a good dose of creativity and imagination. What CAIR did wasn’t anything new, but what we did do was for the first time we really made a right-wing talk show host feel pain for the things he said. I mean think about this, right wing talk show hosts (and liberal ones for that matter) say some stupid things. Savage has attacked autistic kids, immigrants, gays, you name it if it ain’t him or like him, he’s said some messed up shit. But very few have taken up a campaign that calls into question the appropriateness of the statements.
Well how will Centrix know? Thats where you have consumers hold them accountable by calling the business and asking very specific questions and challenging statements. When you get 5 calls, its like waiting out the doldrums on the Black Pearl but when you get 150 calls during the course of the business day, thats cause for concern. That brings about a quick response The thing is, Savage has the right to free speech. But as consumers we have the right to shop from companies we want to shop for. If we don’t want to be purchasing clothes made in child labor camps than “Brand XYZ” would be a company we stay away from. As a consumer we can take our money where we want, its our capital power that informs the democratic economy. By creating a campaign like Savage’s we are telling other folks who are conscience to our values and principles “Hey, Centrix is advertising on Savage Nation and refuses to stop, so you shouldn’t buy whatever from them because they support hate against a religious minority in America.”
before things get out of control. Get media people (because you sent out a PR to media) asking questions about the whole incident and that means you have to start paying your PR/marketing consultant overtime to figure out how to manage the negative impact that the brand will take by its association to the whole thing. In the end a companies make quick responses in order to stave off very expensive brand/image fixing in the future (more on this later).
The TLC All American Muslim campaign by Florida Family Association is the same thing, except its done in such a way that really shows precisely how bigoted, racist and discriminatory the action is. (Again replace Muslim and Islam with Jew, Black, Mexican, Irish, Italian…the result is the stereotype, hate and vile that has been present in America’s underbelly).
Give you an idea of how this has worked in the past- Skins, MTV- the show had “racy” teenage depictions of casual sex and drug use, and the blow was complete when you had underage actors. That all equaled soft porn with children. After just one season, MTV cancelled the show in June 2011. The pressure that built towards that end was lead by The Parents Television Council, that got 10 companies to pull advertisements from MTV within the first couple of episodes (if CAIR got a handful that amounted to 1 million dollars, imagine the revenue loss here!).
This action/campaign model works for controversial speakers as well- although this is much more difficult to manage. It works on particular types of brands and also it works on locations. However, there is always multiple variables that come into play, often times its very easy to miscalculate the whole thing and you find yourself with an ineffective campaign- that would be Ahmedinajad speaking at Columbia University in 2007 (surprisingly the same year as Savage) where no amount of pressure would force President Bollinger to change his mind (yeah, sometimes you have folks that are just so principled…)
From the outside I honestly would say FFA campaign was one that will flop, but surprise surprise! Lowe’s was stupid enough to make such a huge blunder.
The companies caught in the storm, sadly were ill prepared
There is a standardized PR response that unfortunately does not work in social media driven marketing. The responses that the traditionally trained PR folks at these company’s put out are staggeringly insufficient. (this point is a whole post unto itself, again if asked to I can write my thoughts on this later) With that being said, I want to give Lowe’s the benefit of doubt, but there are components to the whole affair that suggest otherwise. First, Lowe’s gets this e-mail from FFA, which is followed up with phone calls (e-mails are dime a dozen) that put the whole affair on the marketing folks radar, Lowe’s marketing folks need to take it seriously before it gets out of control.
Lowe’s than sends something (?) to FFA in which it states ““While we continue to advertise on various cable networks, including TLC, there are certain programs that do not meet Lowe’s advertising guidelines, including the show you brought to our attention.” The standard response is usually no response, which makes this whole thing a real surprise and I suspect, again mere speculation, there are folks in Lowe’s management that might share this particular strain of thought, or else they wouldn’t have made such a hasty decision to immediately pull out advertising. But in my mind this is what Lowe’s decision implies:
Okay, so Lowe’s agrees that the depiction of Muslims on TLC’s show is so passive that it ultimately requires the many jihadi’s that parade around in America in order to fully depict American Muslim life? Let me get this right- if people believed that there was a Jewish conspiracy to control America by controlling the banks, the media, and politicians, and it was called the protocol of the elders of zion, than any depiction of Jewish life in America would absolutely have to show the greedy banker, the conniving politician and the lying media personality (since the Jews believe in lying, its part of their religion, Kol Nidre).
As far as I am concerned you don’t have to be Muslim, Jewish or Christian to be greedy, conniving or dishonest; in fact no one race or people (religion) have a monopoly when it comes to those characteristics, but what FFA is asserting and Lowe’s is agreeing with is that Muslims do have the market on not being “normal” since they are prone to “terrorism”, “extremism” and “fundamentalism.”
Alas, Lowe’s back tracks– maybe?- by stating (on Twitter, again a good example of BAD SOCIAL MEDIA-Traditional Media strategy) “It is never our intent to alienate anyone…Lowe’s values diversity of thought in everyone, including our employees and prospective customers.”
Aaaah, okay, lame. Lowes how about, “No we have not pulled any advertisement, in fact we value programming that is diverse and represents the variety of segments that make up our country.”
But no, Lowe’s tells the Hollywood Reporter (which probably was a bad idea, because that thing is INDUSTRY STANDARD and when you do a publicity screw up with them, you pretty much will be taking years to recover)-“We understand the program raised concerns, complaints or issues from multiple sides of the viewer spectrum, which we found after doing research of news articles and blogs covering the show. We based our decision to pull the advertising on this research and after hearing the concerns we received through emails, calls, through social media and in news reports.”
So the end result- THEY PULLED AD’s, as admitted by the spokesperson in the quote above! But how did they reach that conclusion- “doing research of news articles and blogs covering the show”-BLOGS, are you F’ing kidding me?
You know I can start a blog right now that bashes Lowe’s, its management specifically. I can make up stories about things that supposedly happened at Lowes, that never actually did. I can talk about defects in Lowe’s products and I can talk about the conspiracy Lowe’s is in on to overthrow the government of Brazil so they can corner the market on Brazilian tiger wood imports to the US (hey, I love interior design and hardwood floors…don’t hate.) I can do so many things with a blog and if Lowe’s believes that its legitimate source of gathering research, MY GOD FIRE THE IDIOT THAT RUNS THEIR MARKETING (in fact HIRE ME!) because they are stupid as a duck, wait, I take that back a duck has the brains to migrate which is a sign of intelligence for the profession the duck is involved with.
They looked at news articles?- really- All American Muslim has got raving articles in industry related publications. Its seen as a show
“It’s a quiet look at five rather ordinary families, one that may have its work cut out for it when competing with far more salacious reality fare.It’s a quiet look at five rather ordinary families, one that may have its work cut out for it when competing with far more salacious reality fare.” – review by Breitbart’s Big Hollywood and this guy is not a friend of “American Muslims” (God, yes i went to Brietbart’s site for this)
“The new TLC show, ‘All-American Muslim,’ offers up plenty of characters for a look at the everyday lives of a community much the same as any other” says LA Times TV Critic
“As it turns out, however, the only thing extreme about “All-American Muslim,” an eight-part series that begins on Sunday, is the lengths to which it goes to portray its subjects — members of the Arab-American community in Dearborn, Mich. — as everyday people.” says the venerable NY Times review.
The Lowe’s monkey marketing team must be talking about this spectrum of yellow journalism that they took to be their weather vein in the decision making process:
“The problem people have with Islam is not with every Muslim person. It is with Islam’s teachings of violence against and the subjugation of unbelievers. It is with the supremacist ideology and the fervent believers in those noxious doctrines of warfare and subjugation. All-American Muslim addresses nothing of that supremacist ideology, although at times it makes an appearance despite the producers’ best efforts.” from Robert Spencer at Human Events (I refuse to link love to bile).
“Clearly this program is an attempt to manipulate Americans into ignoring the threat of jihad and to bully them into thinking that being concerned about the jihad threat would somehow victimize these nice people in this show.”
from the Queen of douchbaggery herself, Pamela Geller on JihadWatch (again no link love to poop)
” TLC’s new ‘reality’ series ALL AMERICAN MUSLIM will be an ‘educational’ experience for all us ignorant infidels” from BareNakedIslam (link love, just because, I got the edited picture above from here)
“I don’t know what to think about that mess. It seems they are coming out with this type of thing just to sway everyone. I don’t appreciate it myself. A whole area of Muslims in one place doesn’t make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside” comment left by Locust Fork at (I kid you not) gunbrokers forum.
“The theme of All-American Muslim is that Muslims are just like us. It’s the same message that Hollywood has been blasting at us for ten years as if anyone were under the impression that Muslims are aliens from another planet. Muslims are like us; that’s the problem. The Nazis were like us too. So were the Communists. They were and are what we are capable of becoming if we fall under the sway of a totalitarian ideology that insists it has the right and duty to enslave the human race. And so we’re treated to endless scenes of normalization. Muslim women care about their looks. Muslim men like sports. Muslims hold down jobs and deal with the same issues that we do” from FrontPageMagaine (no link love to yellow journalism drivel)
Obviously Lowe’s done done their homework, oh wait, this JUST IN- Robert Spencer is a….Youre, wait, youre telling me Pamela Geller has been identified as a…Wait, I should share the groundbreaking revelation just in case the marketing sleuths at Lowe’s are still doing research, in plain ENGLISH- Pemela Geller has been identified as a racist by- get this- none other than the Southern Poverty Law Center. Robert Spencer on the other hand is called out specifically by- AGAIN SURPRISINGLY- the ADL (Anti-Defamation League) for leading a Jihad Against Islam. Just in case Lowe’s runs into some future PR crises here’s a site of a whole bunch of information rounding up anti-Muslim leaders and groups here, here and here (which is ADL’s site, but I have to admit, they made it near impossible to find this on their website structure, which is really sad because it suggests two things, they don’t want to be “public” about the work they have done which implies that its not in an effort that is genuine more out of necessity, if it wasn’t like that than you would be able to easily get to it like getting to the White Power segment of the website, just saying.)
Shoddy is what Lowe’s marking team is, and worse they have really created a public relations disaster.
Lowe’s could have easily stayed away from this, but it violated the biggest rule to PR work- the rational approach. Had their folks seen the blatant bigotry and hate embodied in the email they could have avoided a mis-step. But piled on with calls to their corporate office, they found themselves needing to take effective steps. The step they took was a knee jerk appeasement (yes, I used that word and unlike Romney it FITS here perfectly because like European politicians at the time, Lowe’s execs caved into sheer racist and cold blooded narrow mindedness, but I am not saying Lowe’s in any way is Hitler-esque, though with a blog of my stature I could potentially create that type of image….okay I digress).
The problem was Lowe’s didn’t do its research well. Lowe’s thought “Hey, the show is not worth all this trouble, look at Jihadwatch and Geller, they seem like credible folks, lets can it and get on with the office Christmas party.” Ah, hello, the problem was had you done the research you would see the wide level of support bubbling forth in industry papers and columns. Those mean something, what? Well for starters any action taken by Lowe’s must be calculated and on the front of it, the boycott TLC advertisers campaign by FFA was so narrow and so hate motivated that it didnt pass the “rational approach” test. Had Lowe’s thought that its actions would not have an equal or greater reaction would have allowed it to see that the whole thing could potentially also have a positive marketing spin! (they could have locked in an entire segment of a niche minority community across the US just by remaining on the adverstising list and Muslims would have done all the work to promote them for that. I mean when you dont have to work and spend money on marketing and walk away with really positive marketing, how can you not take up that opportunity?)
Instead they issue some pretty redunkalous statements digging themselves deeper, committing the resources of American Muslim and Arab American advocacy organizations like CAIR, MPAC and the ADC. If you look at the response that its garnered from several television industry publications- Hollywood Reporter, Entertainment Weekly, LAist (which is actually calling on a boycott of Lowe’s for sheer stupidity), if English isn’t what they speak at Lowe’s, El Mundo, Deadline Hollywood, and the venerable Variety. I haven’t included the trashing Lowe’s is taking in mainstream media publications, but I am tired and the list is just to long.
The fact of the whole situation that should be clear to Lowe’s is, they just got themselves into a poop-hole. The show crossed into mainstream support without having to, worse that Lowe’s fell into something that was so blatantly hate-motivated only raises more voices against Lowe’s decision and further getting the American Muslim community up in arms on a show that pretty much divided the community down the middle (I am no fan of the show, nor do I hate the show, I write an extensive opinion on it here) they have galvanized a social media campaign, just check out #LowesHatesMuslims; facebook page and two pretty prominent Muslim blog (that I read often) The American Muslim (no affiliation to This American Muslim, great minds think alike though) and MuslimMatters on twitter is holding it down by rallying folks to really send a message to Lowe’s. There is even a petition.
The sad reality for Lowe’s is that its gotten the worst type of campaign at the worst time. I personally called Lowe’s around the country where my family members live and spoke to their Ast. Managers to tell them that said family members will not be shopping at Lowes, and its sad, because if I had to choose, and I have, I would buy from Lowe’s over Home Depot. But now I have no reason to, and my family members getting information from me will not be going either.
Action, Action, Action- A deed is only so good (bad…) as the action that sets it in motion
For Lowe’s- Man, fire the idiots working in your Marketing department. If you believe that the American public, and the larger swath of people that you believe will buy from you, fall in line with the FFA mentality- than your delusional. No one in this country, no God fearing American (okay, American.) will want to say they support hate, bigotry and discrimination. Ask someone “Hey, do you support hating Jews?” the response is “No.” The argument might be that its easier to “hate” Muslims today, but the thing is, leadership is not about ease, its about stepping up the plate an doing the right thing instinctively. To run a successful business that is global (such as Lowe’s) you have to do the right thing because by doing so you present yourself as a leader in the industry you function in. Lowe’s needs to understand what JWT, the worlds leading market analysis firm says that the 6-8 million US Muslims are spending $170 billion a year and 2-3 million UK Muslims are spending £31 billion a year.
A key indicator of the American Muslim consumer potential lies in the growth of the financial services exclusively cattering to the American Muslim community, says Muxlim. In 1987 there were 2 such companies, today there are 19 operating from teh US, the largest of which has 1.5 billion dollars in home financing in the US and another IRA fund, Amana started with $3.2 million in 1987 and is worth more than $2 billion in assets (disclosure, I am an Amana IRA account holder.)
Very few companies have tapped this consumer goldmine, plus, this is a ladder climbing minority whose ranks will be filling upper middle class income brackets. If you want brand loyalty, now is the time to tap into a community trying to mold a sense of identity, mark its place in American society and launch itself into the heart of American political power (does anyone ask why Black folk like Pepsi, well Coke was racist back then and didnt want to directly market and sell to Blacks in the South, worse, they were afraid of loosing their racist consumers in the South by openly marketing to Blacks who were fighting for civil rights. Pepsi on the other hand saw themselves as the first movers and practically monopolized on the Black consumer market in America) In the same way those companies seen openly hostile to the American Muslim community will be blacklisted. If you come from a home like mine, Nike’s are not to be worn, after some 20 years, I bought my first Nike product and I have guilt looking at it)
Worse, this isn’t a Muslim thing anymore. The fact that other outside the community are calling out the bigotry displayed in Lowe’s decision gives a good possibility that Lowe’s will suffer on a broader “spectrum” without having to just loose some 6-7 million American Muslim customers and their supporters. Further complicating this is the fact that the longer this goes on, the more media that builds around it, the wider it spreads in scope (we are a global community, us Muslims especially) Lowe’s will have a pandemic on its hands where no matter what medium it uses to change its position will not be enough because the clarion cry against them will be so far reaching that money could not buy the sort of image repair work they will need to do.
For Muslims and others of Conscience– You really want to drive home the message? Well, continue to target Lowe’s because its presented itself as the prime target- 1-866-900-4650, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also contact us by mailing your correspondence to Lowe’s Companies, Mail Code CON8, 1605 Curtis Bridge Rd., Wilkesboro, North Carolina 28697. Also, find your local Lowe’s call them, ask for the Manger or the Ast. Manager and give them your reason for boycotting the store. They may care, they might not, but one thing is for sure, when employees start hearing about it they start questioning managements stupidity and they might not know, so here is another person to share the news with.
Next, take look at the list put together by The American Muslim and support the companies that continue to advertise. The positive action I think is much more important because if FFA does another directed campaign against a company, that company needs to know that that one voice is not the only voice out there, that way that company does not make a stupid mistake like Lowe’s. Use twitter, facebook and other social media to set an example between “good behavior” and “bad behavior” where the message is clear to everyone- Verizon is a product I will buy from because they advertised with TLC, Lowe’s is not a company I support because #loweshatesmuslims. I mean what will Lowe’s do to a simple message that says “Lowe’s hates Muslims,” really what marketing strategy will you devise to fix the breadth of information attached to this message?
Finally, those with time should write. Write and write and write your hearts desire. To your local newspapers. To the business you support because they support TLC/All-American Muslim. One thing Lowe’s marketing can’t control is the amount of negative association it can garner. If the google word search results in “Loweshatesmuslims” being first page hit, that is priceless for folks who value diversity in America and infinitely costly to Lowes in their brand name being tarnished.
Write to the folks at TLC and tell them “good job, we got your back, don’t let the haters crimp your style, you are doing the right thing.” You know that was one thing I really appreciated while working at CAIR, community members calling and telling me simply “Thank you, please keep up the good work.” Its so simple and we underestimate how much that means to a person psyche and emotional well being. Appreciation is such an innate human quality and Islam tells us to curb it, so that we don’t become dependent on praise from others that the real reward should be and is, from doing things only to please God, that way our actions are not motivated by our ego or the love from others; BUT, just getting an wanted appreciation would lift my spirits at work and allow me to dive into the muckery that was civil rights advocacy. (Brief ray of sunlight, was a means of hope in a situation that is constantly raging with fires and clouds of hopelessness)
If you survived this long, kudos. This whole thing defeats all my rules set for this blog- length, links, topic, depth, linking to haters…yada yada yada. I can’t gaurantee it wont happen again, because its already happened here, but I will say that I had hoped to provide some insight on how this whole thing works and also provide some next steps to folks looking for next steps.