UPDATED 12/15/19 9:32 p.m. ET: Hallmark is reversing course after backlash for pulling an ad that featured a lesbian couple kissing. The channel will be reaching out to the wedding planning company Zola to put the commercials back on air.
Mike Perry, CEO of Hallmark, released a statement Sunday night. "I am sorry for the hurt and disappointment this has caused. Hallmark Channel will be reaching out to Zola to reestablish our partnership and reinstate the commercials," he said, CNN reports. "We will continue to look for ways to be more inclusive and celebrate our differences."
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The family-friendly Hallmark Channel has generated some controversy during its well-known Christmas movie season—and now, people are calling for a boycott.
The backlash stems from Hallmark’s decision to pull an ad from the wedding planning company Zola, which features a lesbian couple kissing. A Zola spokesperson responded to the company’s decision, telling Buzzfeed News that the company has decided to stop advertising on Hallmark completely.
“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,” Mike Chi, Zola's chief marketing officer, said in a statement.
The conservative group One Million Moms was the first to complain about the ad on its website, writing, “The Hallmark Channel has always been known for its family-friendly movies.” The group added, “Even its commercials are usually safe for family viewing. But unfortunately, that is not the case anymore.”
The group created a petition, asking Hallmark to remove the ad. It then shared that it had “personally spoke to” the CEO of Crown Media Family Networks, Bill Abbot, who assured One Million Moms that they would pull the commercial.
“He reported the advertisement aired in error, but he was informed about it after hearing from concerned 1MM supporters. Way to go!" the group wrote.
A Hallmark spokesperson told the Associated Press that the channel removed the ad because it was causing too contentious.
“The debate surrounding these commercials on all sides was distracting from the purpose of our network, which is to provide entertainment value,” Molly Biwer, senior vice president for public affairs and communications at Hallmark, said in a statement to AP.
She continued, “The Hallmark brand is never going to be divisive. We don’t want to generate controversy, we’ve tried very hard to stay out of it... we just felt it was in the best interest of the brand to pull them and not continue to generate controversy.”
However on Sunday, "BoycottHallmark" was trending on Twitter, proof that Hallmark's decision was not sitting well with everyone.