The Hallmark Channel, which is largely ignored 11 months out of the year, is facing some serious backlash this holiday season during their busiest month. A Zola commercial featuring a lesbian couple has gone viral, and countless viewers have promised to boycott the “Countdown to Christmas” until it is pulled.
Hallmark has had a surprising reaction to the controversy, which is very interesting considering its roots lead back to The American Christian Television System and the Vision Interfaith Satellite Network.
The ad that caused so much drama is for Zola, whose catchphrase is “The home of all things wedding.” It’s basically a wedding planning assistant and will let you make a wedding site, register for gifts, fund experiences, and more.
The “questionable” ad is part of a series of advertisements that all have the same theme. A couple stands at the altar and instead of exchanging vows, they tell each other just how easy it would have been if they had used Zola.
The anger from Hallmark viewers came after one of these ads showed a lesbian couple, Ava and Taylor, getting married at the altar and talking about how their guests would have been on time if only they had a Zola wedding website.
The group “One Million Moms” had a lot of things to say to Hallmark about allowing the advertisement to air. In their petition that they released publicly, they all but begged Hallmark to stop running the ad.
“Why would you show a lesbian wedding commercial on the Hallmark Channel?” The “One Million Moms” website asks. “Hallmark movies are family-friendly, and you ruined it with the commercial.”
Over 25,000 people signed the petition asking Hallmark to pull the plug on the ad.
Which they did…for a while.
Hallmark decided to pull the advertisement, but it didn’t stay pulled for long. The backlash over social media was much more than this company expected.
Over 8,000 people tweeted with the hashtag “Boycott Hallmark Channel” after Hallmark shared its decision to pull Zola ads, with one clever user sharing a logo with the words “Homophobic” in classic Hallmark gold script, with Hallmark branding.
“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,” a spokesman said Friday.
However, if you’ve ever seen a Hallmark movie, you know that while it’s all family-friendly, there is plenty of kissing and romance.
Zola bit back soon after the statement was released, claiming that “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…Hallmark approved a commercial where a heterosexual couple kissed.”
Hallmark CEO and president Mike Perry released a statement saying the company has “seen the hurt it has unintentionally caused…they [The Hallmark Channel] believe this was the wrong decision. We are truly sorry for the hurt and disappointment this has caused.”
“The Hallmark Channel will be reaching out to Zola to reestablish our partnership and reinstate the commercials.”