|Scene From Zola Commercial|
The company also didn’t help matters by reversing its decision following the backlash, reports The Associated Press.
“It’s hard to keep everyone happy, but flip-flopping doesn’t help,” said Allen Adamson, co-founder of the marketing consultancy Metaforce. “These are difficult issues to navigate but when you’re going to make a call one way or another, make sure you understand the ramifications. You only want to pull the Band-Aid off once.”
Paul Argenti, Dartmouth College professor of corporate communication, added that the debacle “shows you if you know who you are, what you’re doing and stand by your beliefs, you’ll be better off in the end.”
That reputation prompted Hallmark to pull four Zola ads with same-sex couples after getting a complaint from a conservative group with a stated mission to “fight against indecency.” Hallmark allowed two ads with opposite-sex couples from Zola, though Zola pulled those after the same-sex ads were nixed.
In an interview over the weekend, Hallmark spokeswoman Molly Biwer said the company felt “it was in the best interest of the brand to pull them and not continue to generate controversy.”
Instead, Hallmark faced criticism on Twitter from celebrities, including Ellen DeGeneres and William Shatner. “Isn’t it almost 2020? What are you thinking?” DeGeneres tweeted.
Hallmark was also mocked on “Saturday Night Live.” Netflix tweeted stills from a TV show and movie that it labeled “Titles Featuring Lesbians Joyfully Existing And Also It’s Christmas Can We Just Let People Love Who They Love.”
By Sunday, Hallmark had reversed its decision. In a statement, Hallmark Cards CEO Mike Perry said Crown Media was “agonizing” over the decision. “Said simply, they believe this was the wrong decision,” he said.
That, in turn, prompted calls for a boycott of the Hallmark Channel by the group that made the original complaint, One Million Moms. It accused Hallmark of caving to the LGBTQ community and portrayed the reversal as a betrayal to conservatives.