Earlier this week, travel site Kayak.com joined Lowe’s in withdrawing their ads from TLC’s All-American Muslim, a reality show featuring 5 Muslim American families in Dearborn, Michigan partaking in everyday activities like getting their kids ready for the first day of school, a new mother coming to terms with postpartum depression, and two young women pondering what the next step in their career is.
Frankly, the subjects of this reality show are so mundane that I started wondering if I would be able to land my own show, episodes of me making a sandwich, combing my hair, tying my shoes before work, all set to catchy background music.
Jokes aside, it’s quite satisfying to see Muslim Americans on mainstream television just living their normal lives, none of that stereotypical extremist imaging that you find on countless other shows. So why, then, did Kayak pull their ads?
When we decided to give our money to TLC for this program, we deemed the show a worthy topic. 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.
I then checked the Florida Family Association website to see how this was portrayed. Besides the regrettable hatred, I also noticed that we weren’t listed. The email was a template, so people who sent thousands of emails seemed to be unaware they were sending it to us. The amount of vitriol in the emails was saddening, but I didn’t exactly feel pressured (not to mention we wouldn’t bend to such pressure). Many of the emails I’ve received expressing disappointment in our decision have been much more civil, and I applaud you for that.
Lastly, I watched the first two episodes. Mostly, I just thought the show sucked.
I’m not sure what Robert Birge, Kayak’s Chief Marketing Officer, meant by TLC intentionally picking a fight by airing All-American Muslim. I’m pretty sure the people picking a fight are those who dislike the show because it shows Muslim Americans as normal Americans and not as violent fanatics like they may be used to seeing. Dare I say, the Florida Family Association and its followers are uncomfortable with this mundane portrayal because it challenges a blanket image they hold of an entire group? And give me a break about not caving to such pressure. You caved.
Birge’s statement also claimed: For the record, we didn’t “pull” our ads. Our ads kept running on this program, but we have made the decision not to give TLC more money when the show returns in January. Yes, this would be like if ex-presidential candidate, Herman Cain, said: I’m not handsy, I just get a little overzealous with my touching at times.