Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Loews, Target just weren't anticipating...

I AM FOREVER puzzled by the dumb decisions by the front offices of major corporations. The very latest: the Lowe's home improvement giant's surrender to a wacky Florida Christian outfit by pulling its ads from a harmless TV series (The Learning Channel) on the routine lives of American Muslim families.

In a pathetic attempt at damage control, a Lowe's spokesman said the program had become a "lightning rod." If so, it was nothing like the lightning rod that flashed following Lowe's action. There have been buyer boycotts and coast-to-coast criticism by American Muslims, human rights groups and entertainment stars. And it appears it's just getting started.

Lowe's has a perfect right to choose the programs it will nourish with its ads. But for it to appear that it is shocked by the response suggests to me that very little thought and preparation went into the TV ad plan in the first place. Did anybody in the room raise the possibility that a show about Muslim families just might lead to grief these days when so many people can name their favorite enemies of wholesome American soil? The same can be said about the decision to pull the ads.

The so-called lightning rod was produced by a right-wing religious nuisance, the American Family Assn, that claims about 35,000 members - although we can never be certain about the numbers. We do know that it is intensely anti-gay and has stalked various other things that it considers a threat to American "biblical values." The group sponsored Rick Perry's prayer rally, which tells you something about its line of day-and-night jobs.

Last year, Target stores learned the hard way that you have to be careful about the segment of society that could be tarnished by a big company's direct, or indirect, action. In this instance, Target made a hefty contribution to an anti-gay, anti-immigrant, anti-whatever gubernatorial candidate in Minnesota.). All hell broke loose even though Target could otherwise defend its reputation as having a commendable record on human rights within the company.

Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel apologized to his employes saying "our decision affected many of you in a way I did not anticipate, and for that I am genuinely sorry."

The key word, I suppose, is "anticipate." Which is exactly what the brass at Lowe's didn't do, either.

1 comment:

David Hess said...

Who was it said, "Anticipation is the lesser part of valor?" Oops, I guess it was me. It seems to be that, even had the Lowes executive foreseen the flap, he should have mustered the grit to sponsor the TV show if he thought it would improve broader tolerance of other religions. I'm always astonished that public and corporate leaders are so intimidated by loud-mouth splinter groups. Where is Harry Truman when we need him?