The Downside of Decisions

Robin Cohn & Company

The Hallmark Channel movies feature chaste love scenes and happy endings. But it earned an X rating for its ads featuring lesbians. This is a classic example of the failure to consider downsides of an idea.

Squeaky clean Hallmark Channel ran advertisements showing two lesbians kissing. The ads were sponsored by Zola, a wedding planning website. Naturally, conservative viewers went on the war path—overpowering those who liked it..

Here’s the thing about controversial advertising. For every audience member who approves, there is another that does not. You’d have thought the Hallmark’s mission to “fight against indecency” for a dogmatic crowd would have been in the company’s DNA. Nope.

It’s one thing to take a stand on a controversial subject when you are willing to face the backlash. Otherwise, you are in big trouble.

Hallmark pulled the ads, angering viewers who were happy with the ads. Now, everyone is mad at Hallmark.

When it comes to making decisions, it’s important to think of the downsides as well as the up. Seems the channel, known for its family friendly content, didn’t consider how lesbian ads would turn off a conservative audience. Who approved this campaign?

Perhaps Zola paid a bundle for the ads. Money should not be the only consideration if other aspects are more important—like losing your audience. Hard to say if Hallmark’s image is hurt for the long term, but the negative backlash has become a huge story. Now there are calls for a Hallmark boycott. With all the turmoil, this is not a happy gift for other Hallmark advertisers caught in the uproar. And, dousing it’s own traditional Christmas spirit, this story isn’t going to have a happy ending for the Hallmark Movie Channel.

Robin Cohn and Co

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