How would you describe your feelings without using the word “love”? That’s the question put to real-life couples in a series of online ads for Hallmark.
“Warm fuzzies, eating chocolate chip cookies all the time,” one young woman responded.
Nothing unusual there. Hallmark, after all, is known for commercials dripping with sentiment.
But the woman in this particular ad is talking about her female partner of two years, and that move by Hallmark — featuring a biracial lesbian couple alongside male-female couples — is winning the Kansas City company praise.
“It’s incredibly inspiring to see commercials like this on TV as a gay teenager,” wrote one commenter on Hallmark’s YouTube channel. “I can’t imagine growing up in a time with even more homophobia than there is today. … Thank you, Hallmark!”
(Apparently not all the reaction has been so glowing. Hallmark is moderating comments on its YouTube page and posted this note: “Just an FYI that we will be deleting comments that use hate language or attack other commenters.”)
This is not new territory for Hallmark — it has been selling gay marriage cards since 2008. But the ads are seen as a step forward, particularly in light of the “fun apparel” flap of late 2013. That’s when the company introduced a Christmas sweater ornament decorated with the words “Don we now our FUN apparel!”
Fun. Not gay.
At the time there was certainly some negative reaction, but few seemed to think Hallmark was trying to be anti-gay.
The couples ads are, as you might have guessed, part of a Hallmark Valentine’s Day campaign. “Put Your Heart to Paper” is a not-so-subtle suggestion to buy Valentine cards “when you need more than a text or social media,” as Hallmark’s editorial director put it in a news release.
The campaign’s goal “is to celebrate all types of relationships and the types of things anyone would appreciate hearing on Valentine’s Day,” Hallmark spokeswoman Jaci Twidwell said. “Our cards reflect that same diversity and aim to celebrate all types of love.”
All the couples are from the Los Angeles area.
“You Know Gay Ads Have Gone Mainstream When Even Hallmark Is Making Them” is the headline on an online Adweek story about the campaign, which noted that commercials featuring gay couples “really accelerated in 2014.”
Mic.com, a news site aimed at young people, headlined its story about the two-minute “Eugenia and Corinna” spot this way: “Hallmark’s Adorable Valentine’s Day Ad Proves Homophobia Has Become Bad for Business.” The company’s campaign reflects “the wider sea change in approval of the LGBT community,” the article said.