Commentary

Hallmark Says It Will Run Zola Ads Featuring Two Brides Kissing After All

After several days of backlash, the Hallmark Channel says it will allow four advertisements for the wedding planning website Zola that it had banned because they feature brides kissing each other.

“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,” the company tweeted  last night above the text of an apology from Mike Perry, president and CEO of Hallmark Cards, which owns and operates Crown Media Family Networks.

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That decision is drawing both praise and rebuke in the comments section.

“As a LGBTQ supporter who does often watch a hallmark movie here and there, I'm thankful for you all admitting your discriminatory choice and then doing the right thing. Love is love and no one who cares is hurt by people living their truth,” tweets @waitng4thtdance.

“This makes me sad that Hallmark caved against their beliefs because ppl whined on Twitter. Ppl need to be reading the Bible apparently…,” @CamoMom75 writes.

Six ads for Zola “first appeared on the Hallmark Channel on Dec. 2. The ads, which feature several configurations of couples, all offer variations on the same concept: While standing at the altar, couples ponder whether guests would have arrived on time and bought them better gifts if only they had created a custom wedding website with Zola,” Heather Murphy reports for The New York Times.

“In some of the ads, the couples kiss at the altar and in the aisle, surrounded by friends. 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,” Murphy adds.

Hallmark’s original decision to pull the ads “was a victory for a conservative group that petitioned against the commercials, which called them a blow to Hallmark’s ‘family friendly’ reputation and gathered nearly 30,000 signatures. But the decision astonished LGBTQ advocates, who viewed it as a step backward from an iconic brand amid growing representation of different sexual orientations in media. Zola announced it would stop advertising with the channel,” Hannah Knowles writes  for The Washington Post.

“The initial complaint to Hallmark from One Million Moms, a socially conservative group created by the American Family Association, stated, ‘Please reconsider airing commercials with same-sex couples, and please do not add LGBT movies to the Hallmark Channel. Such content goes against Christian and conservative values that are important to your primary audience. You will lose viewers if you cave to the LBGT agenda,’” Kimberly Nordyke and Sharareh Drury report  for The Hollywood Reporter.

“The group later updated its website after saying it had communicated with Bill Abbott, CEO of Hallmark parent Crown Media Family Networks, who confirmed to One Million Moms that the commercials were pulled from the network,” Nordyke and Drury add.

“The hashtag #BoycottHallmarkChannel quickly [spread] on Twitter in the wake of Hallmark's decision to pull the ads, as celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneres, Monica Lewinsky, and Bridget Regan drew attention to the issue. Zola also pulled all their advertising from Hallmark,” Amanda Yeo writes  for Mashable.

“Isn’t it almost 2020? @hallmarkchannel, @billabbottHC… what are you thinking? Please explain. We’re all ears,” DeGeneres tweeted Saturday. 

Abbott, who runs “the No. 1 cable network among women between the ages of twenty-five and fifty-four, and, in some prime-time slots, No. 1 in households and total viewers,” as Sarah Larson reports  for The New Yorker, was mum about the reversal as of this morning.

“Since 2011, from late October to January, Hallmark has broadcast Christmas movies nearly twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week,” Larson writes.

“You spoke out and @hallmarkchannel listened. LGBTQ people deserve to see ourselves represented on all TV networks. Thank you to everyone who raised your voices,” GLAAD tweeted  last night.

“It’s unclear whether Zola will continue airing ads on the The Hallmark Channel, but they noted they are ‘relieved’ by these recent updates,” Jordan Freiman writes  for CBS News.

“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. We are humbled by everyone who showed support not only for Zola, but for all the LGBTQ couples and families who express their love on their wedding day, and every day,” says Zola CMO Mike Chi.

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