Among the many who expressed dismay over at Hallmark's takedown of the Zola ads was Ellen DeGeneres

By Karen Mizoguchi
December 15, 2019 09:15 PM
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The Hallmark Channel is walking back its decision to pull multiple commercials featuring same-sex couples kissing at their weddings.

“The Crown Media team has been agonizing over this decision as we’ve seen the hurt it has unintentionally caused. Said simply, they believe this was the wrong decision,” said Mike Perry, President and CEO, Hallmark Cards, Inc., in a statement obtained by PEOPLE on Sunday evening.

“Our mission is rooted in helping all people connect, celebrate traditions, and be inspired to capture meaningful moments in their lives. Anything that detracts from this purpose is not who we are. We are truly sorry for the hurt and disappointment this has caused,” the statement continued.

Ads from wedding planning website Zola, which first appeared on the Hallmark Channel on Dec. 2 according to The New York Times, showed the couples — most of which are same-sex females — standing at the altar and wondering if their guests would have arrived on time and bought them better gifts had they used Zola. The couples eventually kiss while celebrated by their family and friends.

Zola.com ad
Credit: Zola

However, One Million Moms, a division of the conservative American Family Association, published a petition urging Hallmark to no longer air the ads featuring same-sex couples. In a statement to the Times on Friday, Crown Media Family Networks confirmed the decision to pull the ads, stating: “The debate surrounding these commercials on all sides was distracting from the purpose of our network, which is to provide entertainment value.”

By Sunday evening, the company apologized for pulling the commercials of the same-sex couples, announcing that Hallmark will be working with GLAAD to “better represent the LGBTQ community across our portfolio of brands.”

Also, the company clarified: “Hallmark will be reaching out to Zola to reestablish our partnership and reinstate the commercials.”

In his statement, Perry concluded, “Across our brand, we will continue to look for ways to be more inclusive and celebrate our differences.”

Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President and CEO, also released a statement following Hallmark’s apology. “The Hallmark Channel’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,” Ellis said. “LGBTQ people are, and will continue to be a part of advertisements and family programming and that will never change. GLAAD exists to hold brands like The Hallmark Channel accountable when they make discriminatory decisions and to proactively ensure families of all kinds are represented in fair and accurate ways.”

Before the release of Hallmark’s apology, Mike Chi, the chief marketing officer of Zola, told the Times that he did not believe the kiss was the issue for Hallmark. “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,” he said. “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.”

Among the many who expressed dismay over at Hallmark’s takedown of the Zola ads was Ellen DeGeneres, who tweeted: “Isn’t it almost 2020? @hallmarkchannel, @billabbottHC… what are you thinking? Please explain. We’re all ears.”