The Hallmark Channel pulled & then reinstated Zola ads featuring a same-sex couple

Buckingham Palace diplomatic reception

Over the past two or three years especially, I’ve noticed a real shift in advertising here in America. A lot of companies are trying harder to be lowkey “woke” with their television commercials, even if their corporate culture is the opposite of woke. There just seems to be so much more visual representation and inclusion, with more black, Asian and Hispanic families represented, more multiracial families, and more same-sex couples represented. It’s a good thing, frankly, and I’m happy to see that few people complain about inclusion and representation at this point. Except as it turns out, all of those bigots, homophobes and racists were watching the Hallmark Channel and their lives were destroyed when Hallmark aired some Zola commercials featuring a (GASP) wedding between two women. Here’s one of the ads:

This is just a reminder that the wedding industrial complex is so happy to direct advertising to the LGBTQ demographic. Zola would love to make bigger inroads into the LGBTQ community, as would most advertisers and corporations. But… some people are still dumb as f–k and so thousands of people signed a petition and demanded that the Hallmark Channel protect the sanctity of their churchy TV movies, and the Hallmark Channel caved and pulled four of the Zola ads featuring gay peeps. From the New York Times:

The Hallmark Channel pulled four TV ads featuring brides kissing each other on Thursday after a targeted campaign by a conservative group. Asked to explain why the ads had been rejected, an employee of Hallmark’s parent company said the channel did not accept ads “that are deemed controversial,” according to an email exchange shared with The New York Times. A spokesman for Hallmark said the women’s “public displays of affection” violated the channel’s policies, but he declined to comment on why a nearly identical ad featuring a bride and groom kissing was not rejected.

The series of six ads, for the wedding planning website 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. 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.

Early this week, One Million Moms, a division of the conservative American Family Association that defines its mission as the “fight against indecency,” published a petition urging Hallmark to “please reconsider airing commercials with same-sex couples.” A statement on the organization’s website announcing the campaign quotes an unnamed commenter on a Hallmark Channel message board: “Why would you show a lesbian wedding commercial on the Hallmark Channel? Hallmark movies are family friendly, and you ruined it with the commercial.” As of Friday evening, nearly 25,000 people had signed a petition to make Hallmark reconsider the commercials, according to the site.

The Hallmark Channel spokesman suggested on Friday afternoon that the issue was the couple’s kissing. “The decision not to air overt public displays of affection in our sponsored advertisement, regardless of the participants, is in line with our current policy, which includes not featuring political advertisements, offensive language, R-rated movie content and many other categories,” he said. Only four of the ads were rejected as controversial, however, according to the email exchange with Zola and several of the company’s representatives. In one of the two ads that were permitted to continue to air, a bride and groom kiss passionately at the altar.

Mike Chi, the chief marketing officer of Zola, said he was taken aback by Hallmark’s decision to pull the ads. Zola has run ads featuring same-sex couples on the Hallmark channel previously, he said, without hiccups. He said he was not convinced that the issue was the kiss. “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.”

[From The New York Times]

It’s honestly great press for Zola, especially if they stick with the decision to cancel their ad buy on the Hallmark Channel. It’s not great press for the Hallmark Channel though, and even as I write this, #BoycottHallmarkChannel is trending on Twitter. Hallmark looks like they caved to some noisy homophobes and like they’re pandering to this churchy Mike Pence crowd who still think that gay marriage is somehow some kind of “culture war.” It’s really not.

Oh, after I wrote all of that, Hallmark finally got with the program and vowed to reinstate the Zola commercials. The Hallmark Channel issued a new statement saying: “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.” Hm.

Buckingham Palace diplomatic reception

Screencaps from the Zola ad.

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25 Responses to “The Hallmark Channel pulled & then reinstated Zola ads featuring a same-sex couple”

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  1. Lindy79 says:

    Anytime you see “One Million Moms” named anywhere you know it’s going to be bigoted conservative fuckery of the highest order.

    • Mabs A'Mabbin says:

      Amen sister. Hallelujah.

      This is the same sort of shit which drove me mental late 70s and 80s, having to live at home, small town Texas, Baptist Church every Wednesday night, (Friday night if there were heathen celebrations tempting our fragile souls), and Sunday morning and evening. My eye-rolling habit was reinforced probably every ten minutes. But according to Mom, I started at two. For all the new mommies out there, be patient with your eye-rollers lol. They only need to understand exactly what you’re saying and why you’re saying it. Most of you are already winning because you know people are still trying to pray away identities. Which is proper bullshit.

    • SK2 says:

      “Indecency”?! They sound as idiotic and archaic as the taliban

    • Isabelle says:

      It’s women who have nothing to do with their miserable lives. They are bored, pretty much don’t contribute to society except for their family.
      So in order for them to feel like their lives aren’t being wasted and they are being wasted, they fly the banner of superiority. Bored, mean angry women constantly jealous of others and forever living the age they married. They never grow up.
      I’m at that age now and see it all the time especially in religious circles.

    • JB says:

      so simply put and yet so brilliant. Thank you Lindy79!

  2. Ann says:

    This “One Million Moms” group barely touches 100k in membership and their active members are in the very low thousands. These “victories” for them always astound me because it’s such a pathetic little bunch and yet every now and then they manage to spark change. The first time I heard of them they were boycotting google because google didn’t do a google doodle on Christmas day and were therefore active participants in the War on Christmas. It was so freaking stupid, just like this.

    • Erinn says:

      Freaking hell. I despise these types of people. There’s a reason that people can’t stand religion. You have all these morons whining about the war on christmas, or christianity, while they’re running a literal war on anything ‘other’. And all the while every single religion seems to be shielding abusers of all types. Maybe they should look inside their own congregations and work on taking the trash out before they start dictating what other people can view.

      It’s always “THINK OF THE CHILDREN” when it comes to tv while they shield the molesters in their own churches.

      • Restless Bitch Face says:

        Yesssss! Erin, you called it!

      • otaku fairy.... says:

        ” I despise these types of people. There’s a reason that people can’t stand religion. ” Yep, and they’ve gotten so used to being submitted to.

      • Mabs A'Mabbin says:

        Truer words….

        Horrible things happen at church. Truly. And youth and choir directors are the worst. And preacher’s kids. And the entire congregation because simply coming on Sunday mornings gives them hall passes for ‘coming’ all week. I’m not bad enough to be a Christian.

  3. bonobochick says:

    Glad folks came down hard on Hallmark over this homophobic mess. That said, I wish those same folks showed even half the energy re: Hallmark’s non-diverse / racist programming. Some of us have been shouting about that blatant issue for years. Just interesting to see…

    P.S. Shouldn’t Black be capitalized along with Asian & Hispanic families in the write up?

  4. Mumbles says:

    In the wisdom of Maya Angelou, when someone tells you who they are, believe them. We saw what you did, Hallmark.

    And yes, “One Million Moms” is a fringe, just like “Concerned Women for America”, or “the Catholic League” who is one guy, Bill Donahue, who runs it from his house and inexplicably gets booked on news shows to express his own fringe views as if he was some spokesman for all Catholics.

  5. Jenns says:

    I hate Christmas and don’t watch these movies, but I always assumed that the Hallmark movies were targeted at Trump voters. Isn’t it usually a white couple, in an all white town, saying Merry Christmas to each other?

    • Darla says:

      Yes. But I do know white women who love these movies and hate trump. I love Christmas, but I am not the target for these movies. I am far too cynical for this stuff. I get the impression that the Netflix Christmas romances are more diverse, but that’s just an impression. I don’t know.

      • Kebbie says:

        My mom and I hate Trump and we loved Hallmark movies. We had no idea Lifetime was making diverse, inclusive Christmas movies until all this went down, so we’re Lifetime converts now.

        I knew the Hallmark movies were too white, but I didn’t know there were other options. I’ve watched the Netflix ones too, but there aren’t as many out there and they’re not that much better than Hallmark. There are a few with people of color as leads. They’re not as diverse as the Lifetime ones I saw this weekend though.

  6. Doodle says:

    All of this over what is at the end of the day a bad commercial. I mean, I don’t care if it’s a hetero couple or a same sex couple, I’m still going to find it an aggravating commercial lol! But the people working at the hallmark channel should be ashamed of themselves, there is absolutely nothing offensive about this. I wish they would go after something worthy of outrage.

  7. Rapunzel says:

    One Million Moms also got mad at hotels.com for a commercial where a couple women joked that condoms were the reason their friend could travel to tropical paradises while they were stuck caring for their kids in the cold. Apparently that implied children are a burden and how dare they. The group’s website is insane. And lol their facebook page doesn’t even have 100K likes.

    • ME says:

      So the group “One Million Moms” doesn’t actually have a million members lol? How do these moms have so much time to find things to be outraged about? I’m scared to think the sh*t they are putting in their child’s minds.

  8. Charfromdarock says:

    My heart breaks for the LGBTQ2+ children growing up in those intolerant hateful million mom’s households. Imagine growing up knowing your Mom hates people like you :(

  9. Alarmjaguar says:

    What a disaster on Hallmark’s part! Fools. Also, it gives me hope that so much of our current political craziness is just a really vocal minority. If only the media would figure this out and stop giving them such large platforms.

  10. Steph says:

    Someone started a “Two Million Moms Who Are Not Homophobic” page on Facebook to counteract that One Million Moms crap. Their goal is to beat OMM’s numbers in a week.

  11. Aimee says:

    Why don’t these people get a life? This is REALITY. Get over it.

  12. Joh says:

    There aren’t a million of them and they aren’t moms.