Style|Hallmark Channel Apologizes for Pulling Ads With Brides Kissing
Hallmark apologized on Sunday after facing days of backlash for pulling four television ads that featured brides kissing each other.
In a statement, Mike Perry, the president and chief executive of Hallmark Cards, said the team at Hallmark Channel’s parent company, Crown Media Family Networks, had “been agonizing over this decision as we’ve seen the hurt it has unintentionally caused” and that “they believe this was the wrong decision.”
“Our mission is rooted in helping all people connect, celebrate traditions and be inspired to capture meaningful moments in their lives,” he said. “Anything that detracts from this purpose is not who we are. We are truly sorry for the hurt and disappointment this has caused.”
Hallmark said in the statement that it would work with GLAAD, a national L.G.B.T.Q. media advocacy organization, “to better represent the L.G.B.T.Q. community across our portfolio of brands,” and that it planned on contacting Zola to “re-establish our partnership and reinstate the commercials.”
Zola, a wedding website service, had a series of six commercials for the Hallmark Channel. First appearing on TV on Dec. 2, most of the ads feature a same-sex female couple along with heterosexual couples. One of the six ads focuses on only the lesbian couple. The channel pulled four of the ads Thursday after a conservative group published a petition asking the channel to “please reconsider airing commercials with same-sex couples.”
“We were deeply troubled when Hallmark rejected our commercials for featuring a lesbian couple celebrating their marriage, and are relieved to see that decision was reversed,” saidMike Chi, the chief marketing officer of Zola. “We are humbled by everyone who showed support not only for Zola, but for all the L.G.B.T.Q. couples and families who express their love on their wedding day, and every day.”
Before agreeing to reinstate the ads on the channel, Mr. Chi said that he needed to “understand concrete actions they are going to take.” A Zola representative said that Hallmark reached out to Zola on Monday afternoon to begin a conversation.
Hallmark said it “is, and always has been, committed to diversity and inclusion — both in our workplace as well as the products and experiences we create,” and noted that the company had L.G.B.T.Q. greeting cards and had featured L.G.B.T.Q. couples in commercials.
“We have been a progressive pioneer on television for decades — telling wide ranging stories that elevate the human spirit,” the company said.
The Zola ads drew the ire of One Million Moms,which defines its mission as the “fight against indecency.” The organization is a division of the conservative American Family Association, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated as a hate group.
Monica Cole, the director of One Million Moms, critiqued Hallmark’s reversal. “One Million Moms is extremely disappointed that the Hallmark Channel caved under pressure,” she said in a statement Monday. “This is an enormous mistake that will cause a majority of its viewership to turn the channel.”
Rich Ferraro, the chief communications officer of GLAAD praised the reversal and pointed out that #boycotthallmark and #BoycottHallmarkChannel were trending on Twitter throughout the weekend. “They didn’t cave; they did the right thing,” he said Monday. “This was what consumers were asking them to do.”
Heather Murphy contributed reporting.