Hallmark Channel reverses decision to pull ads featuring same-sex couple

The president and CEO of Hallmark Cards, Inc., announced on Sunday that the company will be reversing a controversial decision it made earlier this month to pull advertisements that featured a lesbian couple getting married and kissing.

The executive, Mike Perry, said on Sunday that the team at the parent company behind The Hallmark Channel, Crown Media Family Networks, has “been agonizing over this decision as we’ve seen the hurt it has unintentionally caused.”

“Said simply, 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. Anything that detracts from this purpose is not who we are. We are truly sorry for the hurt and disappointment this has caused,” he continued.

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The statement comes amid a wave of backlash the company has faced over its decision, including from high-profile figures like South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegBiden hopes to pick VP by Aug. 1 It's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process Here's how Biden can win over the minority vote and the Rust Belt MORE, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate. 

The move by the company earlier this month had arrived after a petition created by a conservative group condemning its decision to air the ads racked up over 26,000 signatures.

In response to much of the criticism the company received over its decision to air and then later remove the ads, a spokesperson for the Hallmark Channel said the ban was in line with its company policy.

“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,” the representative said.

The four ads from Zola that were pulled from the Hallmark Channel over the move were part of a larger ad campaign by the wedding planning company.

Zola's chief marketing officer, Mike Chi, said 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."

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In response to the company’s decision, Chi said last week that Zola would “no longer be advertising on Hallmark.”

However, in the announcement the Hallmark corporation shared on Sunday, the company said that it “will be reaching out to Zola to reestablish our partnership and reinstate the commercials.”

“Across our brand, we will continue to look for ways to be more inclusive and celebrate our differences,” Perry said.

A spokesperson for Zola has also since told CNN that the wedding planning company will be in talks with the network "regarding a potential return to advertising."