The Hallmark Channel has been in a whirlwind of controversy lately. The family network claimed that they were working to make up for the lack of gay Christmas movies, which upset their fan base. Then they aired a same-sex marriage ad…bad move.
Conservatives led a boycott on the channel, leading them to remove the ad. However, Hallmark said on Sunday that they made a “wrong decision” and will reinstate the same-sex commercials.
Considering the network is supposed to be family friendly, and is one of the few channels left that safe for the whole family, it’s frustrating to see them go down this path. They are straying away from what their viewers stand for.
The earlier decision by Crown Media, Hallmark’s parent company, to pull several ads for the wedding planning site Zola featuring two brides kissing at the altar had launched a storm of protest. Celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres and William Shatner criticized the move and the hashtag #BoycottHallmarkChannel was trending on Twitter at one point.
Hallmark Cards CEO Mike Perry said in a statement on Sunday, “The Crown Media team has been agonizing over this decision as we’ve seen the hurt it has unintentionally caused.” He added, “Said simply, they believe this was the wrong decision. … We are truly sorry for the hurt and disappointment this has caused.”
Zola, the wedding planning site that made the ads, said it was relieved that the decision to pull them had been reversed. In an email to The Associated Press, the company said it would be in touch with Hallmark “regarding a potential return to advertising.”
Mike Chi, Zola’s chief marketing officer, added: “We are humbled by everyone who showed support not only for Zola, but for all LGBTQ couples and families who express their love on their wedding day, and every day.”
The LGBT advocacy group GLAAD also expressed relief at the reversal. Its president and CEO, Sarah Kate Ellis, said Hallmark’s “decision to correct its mistake sends an important message to LGBTQ people and represents a major loss for fringe organizations like One Million Moms, whose sole purpose is to hurt families like mine.”
It was a complaint by One Million Moms, part of the American Family Association, that had led to the initial decision to pull the the Zola ads. A post on the group’s website Saturday said that Crown Media CEO Bill Abbott had spoken by telephone with the group and “reported the advertisement aired in error.” It also said: “The call to our office gave us the opportunity to confirm the Hallmark Channel will continue to be a safe and family-friendly network.” The group had not commented on the reversal as of late Sunday night.
Hallmark senior Vice President for public affairs Molly Biwer said, “Crown Media had been in agony over the hurt that this had caused. Hallmark has an unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion.”
She added that the decision to remove the ad in the first place is not who they are. But rather the decision to reinstate the commercials “truly reflects who we are as a company. We celebrate all families.”
“Across our brand, we will continue to look for ways to be more inclusive and celebrate our differences,” Perry concluded.