Hallmark apologized on Sunday after facing days of backlash for pulling four television ads that featured brides kissing each other.
In a statement, Mike Perry, the president and chief executive of Hallmark Cards, said the team at Hallmark Channel’s parent company, Crown Media Family Networks, had “been agonizing over this decision as we’ve seen the hurt it has unintentionally caused” and that “they believe this was the wrong decision.”
“Our mission is rooted in helping all people connect, celebrate traditions and be inspired to capture meaningful moments in their lives,” he said. “Anything that detracts from this purpose is not who we are. We are truly sorry for the hurt and disappointment this has caused.”
Hallmark said in the statement that it would work with GLAAD, a national L.G.B.T.Q. media advocacy organization, “to better represent the L.G.B.T.Q. community across our portfolio of brands,” and that it planned on contacting Zola to “re-establish our partnership and reinstate the commercials.”
Zola, a wedding website service, had a series of six commercials for the Hallmark Channel. First appearing on TV on Dec. 2, most of the ads feature a same-sex female couple along with heterosexual couples. One of the six ads focuses on only the lesbian couple. The channel pulled four of the ads after a targeted campaign by a conservative group.
“We were deeply troubled when Hallmark rejected our commercials for featuring a lesbian couple celebrating their marriage, and are relieved to see that decision was reversed,” Mike Chi, the chief marketing officer of Zola, said on Sunday night. “We are humbled by everyone who showed support not only for Zola, but for all the L.G.B.T.Q. couples and families who express their love on their wedding day, and every day.”
Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and chief executive of GLAAD, said: “The Hallmark Channel’s decision to correct its mistake sends an important message to L.G.B.T.Q. people and represents a major loss for fringe organizations, like One Million Moms, whose sole purpose is to hurt families like mine. L.G.B.T.Q. people are, and will continue to be, a part of advertisements and family programming, and that will never change.”
Hallmark said it “is, and always has been, committed to diversity and inclusion — both in our workplace as well as the products and experiences we create,” and noted that the company had L.G.B.T.Q. greeting cards and had featured L.G.B.T.Q. couples in commercials.
“We have been a progressive pioneer on television for decades — telling wide ranging stories that elevate the human spirit,” the company said.
The Zola ads drew the ire of One Million Moms, a division of the conservative American Family Association that defines its mission as the “fight against indecency.” The group had published a petition asking the channel to “please reconsider airing commercials with same-sex couples.”
Hallmark pulled the commercials on Thursday. Soon thereafter, the online backlash began.
By Sunday, the hashtags #boycotthallmark and #BoycottHallmarkChannel were trending on Twitter, with thousands of posts mostly from users identifying themselves as L.G.B.T.Q. families, allies and Hallmark viewers.