Hallmark Reverses Course on LGBTQ Wedding Ad Removal

Hallmark tends to stick to a fairly predictable formula with its love-themed programming, and it’s something that fans love about the channel. Cute love stories with twists that always have a happy ending make it a favorite destination for viewers. But that image was tarnished when two different boycotts targeted the network this past week.

In response, Hallmark bowed to one set of demands. That set off another group of negative reactions and Hallmark has decided to default to its original setting. What exactly happened and why did Hallmark do an about-face?

Zola wedding commercial
Zola wedding TV spot | Zola

The original gripe started with an ad

Hallmark began airing commercials from wedding planning site Zola on Dec. 2, and one ad features a lesbian couple. In it, the two women are shown kissing at the end of their ceremony. Conservative group One Million Moms decided to launch a campaign slamming Hallmark for showing a same-sex couple during its commercial break. The ad is one of six from Zola but this one garnered the most attention.

Quoting religious scriptures and citing concerns that the network is straying from “family friendly” content, the group wrote a complaint to Hallmark and urged fellow followers to sign a petition “asking Hallmark to do what is right and reject airing movies and commercials with LGBT content!”

Hallmark cancelled the campaign and got dragged online

Once people caught wind of the One Million Moms complaint, everyone waited to see how Hallmark would respond. The company gave in and decided to pull the four Zola ads featuring same-sex couples, which led to another boycott from people who believed Hallmark was in the wrong for doing so.

Initially, Hallmark issued a statement through The Hollywood Reporter justifying its decision:

“Crown Media Family Networks made the decision to pull the commercials. The debate surrounding these commercials on all sides was distracting from the purpose of our network, which is to provide entertainment value.”

GLAAD called out Hallmark for its decision, calling it discriminatory:

“The Hallmark Channel’s decision to remove LGBTQ families in such a blatant way is discriminatory and especially hypocritical coming from a network that claims to present family programming and also recently stated they are ‘open’ to LGBTQ holiday movies.”

Along with the growing boycott against Hallmark on social media that roasted the network, Zola’s chief marketing officer Mike Chi had these choice words:

“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. 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 is now backtracking

The network is now reversing its decision to exclude the Zola ad and has issued an apology. On Sunday, Dec. 15, Hallmark Cards Inc. President and CEO Mike Perry released a statement:

Hallmark added that it will be reaching out to Zola to extend an apology and the company is planning to team up with GLAAD:

“Hallmark will be working with GLAAD to better represent the LGBTQ community across our portfolio of brands. The Hallmark Channel will be reaching out to Zola to reestablish our partnership and reinstate the commercials.”

According to Adweek, Zola’s chief marketing head stated the brand is “relieved” that Hallmark changed its mind.