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It sounded like a good idea. Lowe's, like many companies, wanted to...

It sounded like a good idea. Lowe's, like many companies, wanted to reach out to the Muslim community so it signed up to be a sponsor of a TLC show, All-American Muslim, that showed the daily life of a family living in Michigan. That's the good news. The bad news is that the building supply chain cancelled its advertising after a conservative Christian group, the Florida Family Association, objected to the program.

Lowe's announced on its Facebook page that it was pulling its ads because the show had become a "lightning rod." Its decision, however, generated its own controversy and an avalanche of reader comments, both from individuals who criticized the decision and those who supported it. Many of the in-favor comments fell in the realm of hate speech and Lowe's did nothing to delete the anti-Muslim tirades, claiming "respect for the transparency of social media." This, in turn, outraged civil rights groups that called for a boycott of Lowe's.

This incident raises some ethical dilemmas. Does cancelling its sponsorship also reflect the company's lack of commitment to diversity and inclusion? Would it have been more ethical for Lowe's to stand by their initial decision to sponsor the show and not cave-in to pressure from the Florida Family Association (FFA)? Did Lowe's have an ethical obligation to delete hate speech from its Facebook page, or would that violate the idea of "free speech"? If you were public relations counsel for Lowe's, what advice would you give Lowe's?

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