After being pressured by a conservative advocacy group, Hallmark has decided to pull ads for a wedding planning website that showed 2 brides kissing at the altar. Hallmark is watched by thousands of people during the holidays due to their programming.
Hallmark felt they had to remove the ads because all the controversy was just too distracting.
A spokesperson for Hallmark said debates coming from both sides were distracting from what the network is about which is to provide entertainment to viewers. This information was provided by a senior vice president for public affairs and communications at Hallmark, Molly Biwer.
During an interview, she said that Hallmark has never been divisive, they do not want to create controversy and they have tried very hard to stay out of it. She said they felt it was in the best interest of the brand to pull the ads and stop the controversy.
According to Molly, a conservative group, One Million Moms, is a part of the American Family Association who contacted Bill Abbott, CEO of Crown Media Family Networks, which is the parent company to Hallmark.
A post on the conservative group’s website stated that the advertisement aired in error. The group also said a call to their office gave them the opportunity to confirm that the Hallmark Channel will continue to be safe and family-friendly.
Zola originally had 6 ads and 4 with lesbian couples. After the ads were pulled by Hallmark, only 2 remained with opposite-sex couples. Zola also pulled the remaining ads.
Mike Chi, Zola’s chief marketing officer said that Hallmark approved a commercial with a heterosexual couple kissing. He believes all kisses, couples, and marriages should be equal celebrations of love and they will no longer be advertising on Hallmark.
One of the ads pulled, showed 2 brides standing at the altar and wondering, aloud, if they had chosen a wedding planning site like Zola, would their wedding have gone more smoothly. At the end of the ad, the 2 brides shared a quick kiss.
Sandra Bernhard who played one of the first openly bisexual characters on the TV show, Roseanne, criticized Hallmark. Bernhard said that all the gay ladies she knows will not be watching Hallmark’s Christmas schlock. She went on to say that they will be celebrating with their families, wives, children, friends and getting married in chic ensembles. She figured they didn’t get the memo, families are all-inclusive.
Through all of this, Hallmark appeared to consider more same-sax holiday movies. Abbott was quoted in The Hollywood Report around mid-November saying they were open to any type of movie of any type of relationship.
It seems Hallmark is stuck between a rock and a hard place. If they want to appear as squeaky clean, they must side with the conservative group. If they want to be a part of the rest of the world, they should stand up and say they are not going to discriminate against a group of people. Now it seems they are considering same-sex movies. It’ll be interesting to see how this all unfolds.