Hall­mark pulls gay wed­ding ads

Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - Business -

NEW YORK (AP) — Un­der pres­sure from a con­ser­va­tive ad­vo­cacy group, The Hall­mark Chan­nel has pulled ads for a wed­ding-plan­ning web­site that fea­tured two brides kiss­ing at the al­tar.

The fam­ily-friendly network, which is in the midst of its heav­ily watched hol­i­day pro­gram­ming, re­moved the ads be­cause the con­tro­versy was a dis­trac­tion, a spokesper­son said in an in­ter­view Satur­day.

“The de­bate sur­round­ing th­ese com­mer­cials on all sides was dis­tract­ing from the pur­pose of our network, which is to pro­vide en­ter­tain­ment value,” said a state­ment pro­vided by Molly Bi­wer, se­nior vice pres­i­dent for public af­fairs and com­mu­ni­ca­tions at Hall­mark.

In an in­ter­view, she added: “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.”

Bi­wer con­firmed that a con­ser­va­tive group, One Mil­lion Moms, part of the Amer­i­can Fam­ily As­so­ci­a­tion, had spo­ken to Bill Ab­bott, CEO of Crown Me­dia Fam­ily Net­works, Hall­mark’s par­ent com­pany.

A post on the group’s web­site re­ported that Ab­bott “re­ported the ad­ver­tise­ment aired in er­ror.”

The group also wrote: “The call to our of­fice gave us the op­por­tu­nity to con­firm the Hall­mark Chan­nel will con­tinue to be a safe and fam­ily-friendly network.”

Zola had sub­mit­ted six ads, and four had a les­bian cou­ple. Af­ter Hall­mark pulled those ads, but not two fea­tur­ing only op­po­site-sex cou­ples, Zola pulled its re­main­ing ads, the com­pany said.

“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,” said Mike Chi, Zola’s chief mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer, in a state­ment sent to the AP. ”Hall­mark ap­proved a com­mer­cial where a het­ero­sex­ual cou­ple kissed.

“All kisses, cou­ples and mar­riages are equal cel­e­bra­tions of love and we will no longer be ad­ver­tis­ing on Hall­mark,” Chi said.

In one of the pulled ads, two brides stand at the al­tar and won­der aloud whether their wed­ding would be go­ing more smoothly if they had used a wed­ding plan­ning site like Zola. The light­hearted ad ends with the two brides shar­ing a quick kiss on the al­tar.

Ac­tress San­dra Bern­hard, who played one of the first openly bi­sex­ual char­ac­ters on network TV in “Roseanne,” crit­i­cized Hall­mark’s de­ci­sion.

“All the groovy gay ladies i know won’t be watch­ing your Christ­mas schlock,” she wrote on Twit­ter, ad­dress­ing Hall­mark. “They’ll be out cel­e­brat­ing with their ’fam­i­lies’ wives, chil­dren, friends on & on & get­ting mar­ried in chic en­sem­bles. Didn’t you all get the memo? Fam­ily is all in­clu­sive.”

The de­vel­op­ments came as Hall­mark ap­peared to be con­sid­er­ing more same­sex themed con­tent.

As­so­ci­ated Press

This im­age made from un­dated video pro­vided by Zola shows a scene of its ad­ver­tise­ment. The Hall­mark Chan­nel has pulled the ads for wed­ding-plan­ning web­site Zola that fea­tured same-sex cou­ples. The fam­ily-friendly network, which is in the midst of its heav­ily watched hol­i­day pro­gram­ming, re­moved the ads be­cause the con­tro­versy was a dis­trac­tion, a spokesper­son said in an in­ter­view on Satur­day.

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