Home Depot: Promoter of Equality or Corruptor of Children

The Home Depot is a large chain that sells stuff people use for home repairs, building, or remodeling—the handy person market.  Their target audience is anyone who needs home repair-related materials.  This can include light bulbs and air filter for the not-so-handy people.  The handy person market is diverse so Home Depot targets many segments including homosexuals.  The American Family Association (AFA) has a long history of attacking companies that support homosexuals in any way.  Past targets for their wrath include Disney and Ford for providing same sex partner benefits and marketing in homosexual outlets. 

Home Depot has been sponsoring many gay pride events in the U.S. including Atlanta, Portland, Kansas City, and San Diego.  The AFA describes such support as giving “its financial and corporate support to open displays of homosexual activism on main streets in America’s towns.  Rather than remain neutral in the culture war, The Home Depot has chosen to sponsor and participate in numerous gay pride parades and festivals.”  But the worst act has been to help corrupt children. “Most grievous is The Home Depot’s deliberately exposing small children to lascivious displays of sexual conduct by homosexuals and cross-dressers, which are a common occurrence at these events.”  http://action.afa.net/item.aspx?id=2147496231

What Home Depot has done is to sponsor craft stations for kids at gay pride events.  Home Depot routinely provides such stations at their stores and other events.  http://www.advocate.com/News/Daily_News/2010/06/22/AFA_Home_Depot_Turning_Kids_Gay/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+AdvocatecomDailyNews+%28Advocate.com+Daily+News%29

The critics say:  “Home Depot also signed on as a vendor, conducting kid’s craft workshops for children in the midst of loud and boisterous gay activities.  To this end, Home Depot is basically encouraging the attendance of children at events which openly expose them to transvestites, cross-dressers, and homosexual activists.” http://action.afa.net/Blogs/BlogPost.aspx?id=2147495668

But other people do not see a problem with Home Depot’s actions.  Here are some supportive comments:

I think it would be worth sending edited letters of support through their email system. As you point out, it may get filtered, but it will also show them there are many non-haters out there. That said, it would be important to send letters of support directly through Home Depot’s website. I have to admit it was fun to take the AFA’s letter and change key words to deliver a completely different message than what the AFA intended. peace

I just sent an email edited for my support as well. My only concern is these are filtered through the AFA’s email server so likely they will be checked and only those “approved” by the AFA will be sent. The best email address to send your support directly to is consumeraffairs@homedepot.com Attn: Frank Blake. I just know the AFA is definitely not going to allow our support emails for Home Depot to filter through their email server.

The AFA is using its web site to promote a boycott of Home Depot and to have people send e-mail messages to Home Depot critical of support of gay pride events.  The AFA believes the homosexual agenda is a danger to U.S. families.

Questions to Consider

  1. What role does public relations play in the Home Depot-AFA conflict?
  2. Would this qualify as a crisis for Home Depot?  Why or why not?
  3. How does this case reflect the way stakeholders can place conflicting demands on an organization?
  4. If Home Depot asked you for advice, what would you recommend they do and why?
  5. How do you deal with critics who are devoted to a cause that your organization might view as wrong?
  6. How does this case illustrate the way diverse views can compete in the marketplace of ideas?
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