Saturday, July 28, 2007

I know where I'll shop

The current brouhaha of Bill O'Reilly versus Yearly Kos has just made my shopping easier. For those not following the feud, a few weeks ago, O'Reilly decided that Daily Kos was a hate group and that any candidate who appeared at the Yearly Kos convention was unfit to hold any office. He decided Daily Kos was a hate group by sending some staffers out to comb through the thousands of diaries and hundreds of thousands of comments at Kos to look for outrageous statements. His argument was that since Kos and the other members of the Kos community hadn't disavowed those comments they must approve of them, therefore they are all exactly the same as Nazis, the Klan, Al Capone, and Mussolini. Yes, he really used those comparisons; moderation in language is not one of our boy Bill's virtues. The rest of the Fox gang soon joined in the smear campaign.

So far, there is nothing new here. Pundits, especially conservative ones, have been trying to make a boogie man out of liberal bloggers for a couple years now. Cherry-picking outrageous statements and demanding the other side disavow them is a standard tactic in the politics of false outrage. The fun started when John Aravosis of AmericaBlog and some Kossacks began digging through the comments at and giving them the same treatment. Where O'Reilly and Fox were demanding Democratic presidential candidates repudiate Kos, Aravosis and the Kossacks brought his supporters opinions to the attention of his sponsors. Aravosis is highly effective at managing this sort of campaign.

As a homeowner in the middle of the repair project, I find the results of Aravosis' campaign very interesting. The home project chain Lowe's was quick to respond:
Thank you for your comments regarding the program, The O'Reilly Factor.

Lowe's has strict guidelines that govern the placement of our advertising. Our company advertises primarily in national, network prime-time television programs and on a variety of cable outlets.

Lowe's constantly reviews advertising buys to make certain they are consistent with its policy guidelines. The O'Reilly Factor does not meet Lowe's advertising guidelines, and the company's advertising will no longer appear during the program.

Compare that response to the one from Lowe's main competitor, Home Depot:
Our advertising campaigns have one simple objective to communicate with audiences in the most effective way possible. The Company is receptive to many forms and styles of media as we seek a balanced representation of programming to reach our customer base. Unfortunately campaigns like this one cause us to take time away from our sustainability goals and address a variance of political views.

Lowe's is pulling its ads from O'Reilly's shows while Home Depot wants us to shut up and stop wasting their time. I have both a Lowe's and a Home Depot within two miles of my little fixer-up house. This makes deciding where to spend my home project dollars much easier.

Update: In the comments, Rey Fox wonders what the Home Depot letter means when they mention "sustainability." Home Depot is undertaking a major rebranding effort to portray themselves as an Earth friendly corporation. The message of the full letter (available here) is that by distracting us from this important marketing work, we whiny customers are hurting the Earth. The message is both condescending and insulting.

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