Zola unsure it will run ads on Hallmark Channel following same-sex wedding commercial controversy
The company whose same-sex wedding commercials were abruptly pulled from the Hallmark Channel for being “too controversial” is not sure it will advertise with the network again despite an apology and promise to reinstate the ads.
Zola Chief Marketing Officer Mike Chi told Fast Company in an interview this week that it would take more than an apology for his company to spend money again with the Hallmark Channel. He noted Hallmark’s regret to pulling the ads came only after massive public backlash.
“For us to air on the Hallmark Channel, we’d have to have assurances that both our ads and other advertisers’ content wasn’t being censored, and they weren’t trying to narrow the representation of what they’re showing on their commercials,” Chi told Fast Company, a business magazine and website.
“I think it would take more than a ‘Hey, we’re just going to run these four ads because we got in trouble’ for us to go back on the platform,” Chi said.
The Hallmark Channel, which is incredibly popular for its Christmas movies, decided to pull the ads on Dec. 12 after receiving a growing number of complaints, including about an ad featuring two lesbian brides kissing.
The complaints were part of a campaign by One Million Moms, a division of the anti-LGBTQ American Family Association, which started a petition that said, in part, “Parents need to know they could now come face-to-face with the LGBT agenda when they sit down to watch the Hallmark Channel.”
Chi told Fast Company that Zola had been running same-sex wedding ads on the Hallmark Channel since 2017 and never had an issue, so the decision to pull their ads was surprising and disappointing.
Zola went public with the Hallmark Channel’s decision and the public outcry was massive. Celebrities including Ellen DeGeneres, William Shatner and Chely Wright blasted Hallmark’s decision on social media. Boycotts were threatened by LGBTQ groups and also by advertisers. Three days later, on Dec. 15, the company that owns the Hallmark Channel issued a public apology.
“The Crown Media team has been agonizing over this decision as we’ve seen the hurt it has unintentionally caused,” said Hallmark Cards President and CEO Mike Perry in a written statement.
“Said simply, they believe this was the wrong decision,” Perry added. “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.”
Perry said in the statement that the company would be working with GLAAD “to better represent the LGBTQ community across our portfolio of brands.”
He also said the Hallmark Channel would be reaching out to Zola to “reestablish our partnership and reinstate the commercials.”
Chi told business magazine Inc. that as of Dec. 16 Zola had not heard from the Hallmark Channel. He also said his company had no plans to advertise with them again until “we understand what the path forward is for them.”
GLAAD praised the Hallmark Channel’s decision with the headline on its website, “Victory! The Hallmark Channel will reinstate LGBTQ-inclusive advertisements after GLAAD and the LGBTQ community spoke out.”
“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 sole purpose is to hurt families like mine,” GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a written statement.
“LGBTQ people are, and will continue to be, a part of advertisements and family programming and that will never change,” she said.
One Million Moms, whose Facebook page has just over 98,000 “likes” and whose parent organization AFA is considered a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, is continuing to fight the Hallmark Channel. The group’s director announced Dec. 16 a boycott of the network. As of early Dec. 18, there were close to 40,000 signers.
“One Million Moms is asking once again for Hallmark to stay true to its family-friendly roots that so many families have grown to love and to keep sex and sexual content—including the promotion of homosexuality—out of its programming,” said One Million Moms Director Monica Cole in a written statement.