Following its controversial removal of an ad featuring a lesbian couple kissing at the altar, Hallmark flipped its decision again to now allow the LGBTQ commercial to air. Hallmark Cards, Inc. President & CEO Mike Perry apologized for the “hurt and disappointment” caused after the network’s initial decision to pull the ad.
In an official statement, here’s what Hallmark’s CEO had to say about the reactionary choice to pull the ad:
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.
In addition to the apology and the reinstatement of the commercial, Mike Perry also confirmed that Hallmark will be partnering with GLAAD to “better represent the LGBTQ community across our portfolio of brands.”
The commercial in the midst of the controversy came from Zola, an online wedding planning company. In the 30-second ad, a same-sex couple stands at the altar contemplating whether to tell their guests about Zola, which would’ve helped them organize their ceremony and other wedding details. The commercial ends with the couple sharing a kiss.
The showcase of a lesbian couple locking lips on the Hallmark network, in the midst of its Christmas-focused movie season, moved the outspoken organization One Million Moms to action. The conservative group created a campaign calling for the removal of the ad, citing that the “content goes against Christian and conservative values that are important” to Hallmark’s audience. The more religious-minded demographic's importance is evidenced by the record number of Christmas movies produced this year, as opposed to other faith's celebrations.
The One Million Moms petition demanded Hallmark to reject airing both ads and movies aimed at the LGBTQ community. According to the One Million Moms website, a representative claimed to have spoken with Crown Media Family Networks CEO Bill Abbott, who allegedly “reported the advertisement aired in error.”
Hallmark pulled the ad following the initial backlash and subsequently faced an opposite backlash for doing so. Many less conservative-minded viewers vowed to stop watching the Hallmark channel after the kerfuffle, while others vowed to stop buying products made by Hallmark, including their greeting cards. Even Netflix's social media account took a shot at the network with a tweet about the controversy that promoted Netflix's Christmas movies featuring lesbian couples locking lips. Hallmark wasn't mentioned by name, but the gag was obvious.
This isn’t the first controversy Hallmark has faced this year. Though Lori Loughlin's participation in the college admissions scandal didn’t directly involve Hallmark, the network wrote out the actress from When Calls the Heart following that news breaking earlier this year.
Despite the backlash, Mike Perry reiterated Hallmark’s dedication to inclusion and diversity, saying:
It is never Hallmark's intention to be divisive or generate controversy. We are an inclusive company and have a track record to prove it. We have LGBTQ greeting cards and feature LGBTQ couples in commercials. We have been recognized as one of the Human Rights Campaigns Best Places to Work, and as one of Forbes America's Best Employers for Diversity.