Kayak.com announced Tuesday that it would not continue running ads during the show when it returns in January, taking issue with how TLC presented the content of the series, which premiered in November and follows the daily lives of five Lebanese American Muslim families in Dearborn, Michigan, the largest Muslim community in the United States.
Lowe's Home Improvement recently came under fire after it pulled advertising from the show. The home-improvement chain withdrew its spots after the Florida Family Association, a conservative group, protested that the program was "propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda's clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values." Lowe's later claimed its decision was not based on the FFA's request, but on the fact that the show had prompted "strong political and societal views."
Kayak chief marketing officer Robert Birge took to his company's Web site to explain why he was discontinuing the partnership with All-American Muslim — and why the FFA had nothing to do with it. "I watched the first two episodes. Mostly, I just thought the show sucked," he wrote.
"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."
He continued: "We have made the decision not to give TLC more money when the show returns in January. Unfortunately, this decision comes across as bending to bigotry. It also appears that we did not support people who deserve support as people and as Americans. For that, I am profoundly sorry. I should have communicated more clearly. We would not want anyone to think that we caved to hatred. I wish I could share some of the emails I've received from our team. They are also very unhappy with how I handled this."