Hallmark Apologizes for Dropping Zola Ads Featuring Same-Sex Couple

Zola
Zola

Following major backlash over the weekend, Hallmark Channel is reversing its decision to remove Zola commercials featuring a same-sex couple.

"The Crown Media team has been agonizing over this decision as we've seen the hurt it has unintentionally caused," Mike Perry, President and CEO, Hallmark Cards, Inc., said in a statement Sunday. "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.

"Across our brand, we will continue to look for ways to be more inclusive and celebrate our differences," he added.

"The Hallmark Channel's decision to correct its mistake sends an important message to LGBTQ people and represents a major loss for fringe organizations, like One Million Moms, whose social purpose is to hurt families like mine," GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement following Hallmark's. "LGBTQ people are, and will continue to be a part of advertisements and family programming and that will never change. GLAAD exists to hold brands like The Hallmark Channel accountable when they make discriminatory decisions and to proactively ensure families of all kinds are represented in fair and accurate ways."

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The commercials for Zola, a wedding planning website, feature a same-sex couple praising the company for helping them plan their wedding during the ceremony, which includes the two women kissing. The conservative group One Million Moms complained, and Hallmark removed the ads.

In an initial statement to The Hollywood Reporter on Saturday, Hallmark said, "The debate surrounding these commercials on all sides was distracting from the purpose of our network, which is to provide entertainment value."

"The only difference between the commercials that were flagged and the ones that were approved was that the commercials did not meet Hallmark's standards included a lesbian couple kissing," Mike Chi, Zola's chief marketing officer, said to The Hollywood Reporter. "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."

In its statement Sunday, Hallmark pointed to its LGBTQ greeting cards and LGBTQ couples in its commercials. "Hallmark will be working with GLAAD to better represent the LGBTQ community across our portfolio of brands," the statement read. "The Hallmark Channel will be reaching out to Zola to reestablish our partnership and reinstate the commercials."

Stars who have appeared in Hallmark movies, including Hilarie Burton, Bridget Regan, and Tim Rozen, have spoken out in response.