In early-December, the Hallmark Channel, known for its cheesy Christmas romance movies, began airing commercials for Zola, a wedding planning and registry website.
The commercials feature several different couples talking about the benefits of using Zola while standing at the wedding alter in front of friends and family. Two of the three couples in the series are heterosexual, while the third couple is lesbian.
Some of the spots are shorter, focusing on only one couple, while others involve a cutting together of all three. At the end of the commercial, the couples kiss.
After the commercials began airing, a group called One Million Moms, a “division of the American Family Association,” according to their website, started a petition to have Hallmark pull the ads with the lesbian couple.
“The Hallmark Channel has always been known for its family friendly movies. Even its commercials are usually safe for family viewing. But unfortunately, that is not the case anymore,” states the petition. “Recently, One Million Moms received concerns about Hallmark airing a commercial from Zola.com in which two lesbians are shown kissing at the end of their wedding ceremony.”
The petition then notes that various Crown Media Family Networks executives have recently spoken of a drive for more “diversity” in their films, possibly including LGBTQ characters.
The petition adds that Hallmark should be ashamed “for airing commercials with same-sex couples and even considering movies with LGBT content and lead characters,” and that prior to these commercials and recent comments, Hallmark was “family friendly.”
“Now, parents can no longer trust Hallmark because Hallmark is no longer allowing parents to be the primary educators when it comes to sex and sexual morality,” the petition reads. “Parents need to know they could now come face-to-face with the LGBT agenda when they sit down to watch the Hallmark Channel. Family entertainment is not the outlet in which to be politically correct by forcing tolerance and acceptance of homosexuality – a sinful lifestyle that Scripture clearly deems as wrong.”
The petition concludes by asking for signatures telling “Hallmark to do what is right and reject airing movies and commercials with LGBT content!”
As support for the petition expanded (though it only has about 27,000 signatures), Hallmark on Thursday pulled four of the six Zola ads.
The New York Times reports that when “an ad buyer representing Zola” questioned the network regarding the commercials being taken down, “an account representative for Hallmark” offered the following explanation via email: “We are not allowed to accept creatives that are deemed controversial.”
A spokesperson added:
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.
However, according to Mike Chi, chief marketing officer for Zola, the only ads that were taken down were the ones that featured the lesbian kiss, reports The New York Times. “Hallmark approved a commercial where a heterosexual couple kissed,” Chi stated.
The Daily Wire reached out to multiple Hallmark media contacts in order to clarify this apparent discrepancy, but as of publication, we have not received a single reply.
CNBC was successful in contacting a spokesperson, who told them: “The debate surrounding these commercials on all sides was distracting from the purpose of our network, which is to provide entertainment value.”
Following this kerfuffle, Zola has yanked all advertisements from the Hallmark channel, telling LGBT publication The Advocate that this would be the case “for the foreseeable future.”
For several hours on Sunday, the hashtag #BoycottHallmarkChannel trended on Twitter:
Dear @hallmarkchannel, this is the year 2019. Don’t you think we’ve had enough hatred and bigotry already? Why would you choose to spoil your reputation by giving in to the demands o bigoted idiots?#BoycottHallmarkChannel https://t.co/orMq5YMpre
— Becca Patterson (@Mreauow) December 15, 2019
Recently, CEO of Crown Media Family Networks Bill Abbott said that he’s open to more diversity in Hallmark’s films. During an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in November, he said: “We’re open to really any type of movie of any type of relationship in any space.”
Michelle Vicary, executive vice president of programming for Crown Media Family Networks, recently told The Wrap: “We are looking at pitches for LGBTQ movies …”