Citing its commitment to inclusion, Hallmark Cards rebuked a decision by Crown Media--its unit that runs the Hallmark Channel--to pull a commercial showing a lesbian wedding and said it would look to put the spots back on the air.
An ad for Zola--a bridal registry and gifts company-- showed two women kissing at their wedding and had been running on the squeaky clean holiday oriented cable network until a conservative group petitioned the network to remove them during family friendly programming.
Hallmark Channel pulled the commercial last week and sent Zola an email saying the network is “not allowed to accept creatives that are deemed controversial,” according to the Washington Post.
The network continued to run other ads from Zola that didn't show same-sex couples, but Zola pulled those.
On Sunday, Hallmark Cards CEO released a statement saying the decision was wrong and the company is sorry.
“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. 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.” said Mike Perry, president and CEO of Hallmark Cards Inc.
“Hallmark is, and always has been, committed to diversity and inclusion – both in our workplace as well as the products and experiences we create. It is never Hallmark’s intention to be divisive or generate controversy,” the company said in its statement.
The statement noted that Hallmark has LGBTQ greeting cards and features LGBTQ couples in commercials. It added that Hallmark has been recognized as one of the Human Rights Campaign's Best Places to Work, and as one of Forbes America’s Best Employers for Diversity. On TV, it has told stories including August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson and Colm Tóibín’s The Blackwater Lightship, “both of which highlight the importance of tolerance and understanding,” the statement said.
“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 said in its statement.
“Across our brand, we will continue to look for ways to be more inclusive and celebrate our differences.” Hallmark said.
The ad with the lesbian couple kissing airs on more than 100 networks, a spokesperson for Zola told the Post.
Dropping the ad led to further controversy and protests from LGBT groups and presidential candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
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Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.