On the heels of a controversial decision by Lowe's Home Improvement to pull its advertising from TLC's "All-American Muslim" following protests from a conservative group, another company has decided to do the same--though it claims it was not because of the backlash.
"When we decided to give our money to TLC for this program, we deemed the show a worthy topic," Robert Birge, Kayak's chief marketing officer, wrote in the letter posted on the site. "When we received angry emails regarding our decision to advertise, I looked into the show more thoroughly."
The first thing I discovered was that TLC was not upfront with us about the nature of this show. As I said, it's a worthy topic, but any reasonable person would know that this topic is a particular lightning rod. We believe TLC went out of their way to pick a fight on this, and they didn't let us know their intentions. That's not a business practice that generally gets repeat business from us. I also believe that it did this subject a grave disservice. Sadly, TLC is now enjoying the attention from this controversy.
Birge said he received bulk emails from members of the Florida Family Association, which last month launched an online campaign to pressure marketers, like Lowes, to pull their advertising from the program.
"TLC's 'All-American Muslim' is propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda's clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values," the group wrote. "The show profiles only Muslims that appear to be ordinary folks while excluding many Islamic believers whose agenda poses a clear and present danger to the liberties and traditional values that the majority of Americans cherish."
"The amount of vitriol in the emails was saddening, but I didn't exactly feel pressured," Birge wrote, "not to mention we wouldn't bend to such pressure."
The Lowe's decision to pull its ads sparked a backlash from Muslim groups and supporters of the show. The company apologized on Facebook, which led to an avalanche of vitriolic comments. (Ted Lieu, a state senator from California, told the Associated Press that he would help initiate a boycott if Lowe's did not apologize.)
Birge admitted that the "decision comes across as bending to bigotry," and "it also appears that we did not support people who deserve support as people and as Americans."
"For that," he wrote, "I am profoundly sorry."
Birge added: "Mostly, I just thought the show sucked. Based on our dealings with TLC and the simple assessment of the show, I decided we should put our money elsewhere. Apologies again."
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