The Hallmark Channel came under fire twice last week, first for airing an ad featuring a same-sex couple and then for pulling the ad. Now Hallmark has apologized for removing the ad from its channel and said that it is continuing to be committed to ‘diversity and inclusion’.
The ad in question was made by Zola, an online wedding-planning company that helps couples build registries, create wedding websites and make and send invitations. Sounds very Hallmark-friendly, right? The company produced a series of six commercials that all featured couples at the altar, but the only ad pulled from Hallmark featured two women saying ‘I do’ and kissing at the end of the commercial.
Hallmark pulled the ad on December 12 after the conservative group One Million Moms — which falls under the American Family Association, an organization that attacks ‘indecency’ — published a petition with almost 25,000 signatures from people who wanted the commercial off the air. Following Hallmark’s decision, #boycotthallmark and #BoycottHallmarkChannel quickly began trending on Twitter. The news made headlines and was included in Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update segment, as well as during a skit about a Hallmark dating show.
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Zola has previously aired ads with same-sex couples on the Hallmark channel with no incident. Mike Chi is the chief marketing officer of Zola and told the New York Times that Hallmark explained to him that other Zola ads would be pulled because of kisses. “The only difference between the commercials that were flagged and the ones that were approved was that the commercials that did not meet Hallmark’s standards included a lesbian couple kissing,” said Chi. “Hallmark approved a commercial where a heterosexual couple kissed. All kisses, couples and marriages are equal celebrations of love and we will no longer be advertising on Hallmark.”
Hallmark’s decision to pull the ad appeared to be in direct contradiction to the channels’ recent announcement that they were open to making Christmas movies featuring gay couples. Hallmark Channel CEO Mike Perry announced on Sunday that the Zola ad would be reinstated, saying “Hallmark is, and always has been, committed to diversity and inclusion – both in our workplace as well as the products and experiences we create. It is never Hallmark’s intention to be divisive or generate controversy. We are an inclusive company and have the track record to prove it…The Hallmark Channel will be reaching out to Zola to reestablish our partnership and reinstate the commercials.”
Sarah Kate Ellis is the president of GLAAD and appeared on CNN on Sunday following Perry’s announcement. Ellis said that GLAAD have been in talks with Hallmark about the ad in question and said that she is heartened by how quickly Hallmark responded to the backlash, adding that she hopes people don’t boycott Hallmark. “We’ve been talking to them all weekend because they want to do the right thing,” said Ellis about GLAAD’s discussions with Hallmark. “I think the quick reversal is the right thing.”
“I’m thrilled. ….We’ve been talking to them all weekend because they want to do the right thing. I think the quick reversal is the right thing.” @glaad President & CEO @sarahkateellis says she hopes people don’t boycott Hallmark because “I think they want to do the right thing.” pic.twitter.com/KQfsss51fZ
— Ana Cabrera (@AnaCabrera) December 16, 2019