Hallmark to cut 400 jobs weeks after conservative boycott over kissing brides ad

In this file photo, Cynthia Musick picks from a line of cards at Hallmark Cards Inc. headquarters in Kansas City, Mo., Feb. 6, 2007. | AP Images/Orlin Wagner

Hallmark Cards Inc., the Missouri-based owner of the Hallmark Channel that faced a boycott from conservatives last month for featuring ads of two kissing brides, announced plans Monday to cut 400 jobs from its global workforce including 325 from their Kansas City-based headquarters.

“Our success in 2019 reflects the power of the 100 plus year-old Hallmark and Crayola brands and their relevancy in the lives of our consumers. While there is a lot to feel good about, it is no secret that today’s companies must continuously transform in response to the rapidly evolving retail and consumer environments. The way people shop and the competitive dynamics in the marketplace are changing at a pace and at a degree that is having a significant impact on our businesses,” said Mike Perry, president and CEO of Hallmark Cards Inc., in a release announcing the cuts.

“As we open 2020, we have a clear line of sight to the transformational work that needs to be accomplished and these efforts will lead us on a path that will enable us to realize the longer-term vision and mission we have for our business,” he said.

Perry said the cuts will affect Hallmark’s greeting card business, retail business and corporate support functions.

Employees in those areas, he said, will either be asked to take buyouts from the company or separate from the company involuntarily with severance and transition assistance. It was further noted that employees would be able to apply for new positions within the company as well.

“These changes, while not easy, will enable us to invest in new growth strategies that will ultimately help us realize our future vision. The products and content we create make a positive difference in the world. To be able to help others, and to build an enduring business, we must change,” Perry said. “Our efforts will be ongoing and by transforming the way we work, the way we go to market, and the way we serve our customers, we will be enabling our business to thrive and fulfill the promise of our brand.”

Last month, just before Christmas, The Hallmark Channel, which bills itself as the “country’s leading destination for quality family entertainment,” apologized for removing an ad from that features two brides kissing and reinstated it after backlash from LGBT advocates.

The ad was initially removed after Hallmark heard the complaints of One Million Moms which requested that its content remain family friendly.

When One Million Moms discovered Hallmark Channel had reversed course, the group urged supporters of conservative family values to boycott the channel.

A scene from the controversial Zola ad that was pulled from the Hallmark Channel then reinstated. | Screenshot: Twitter/Zola

“After removing a controversial ad featuring two lesbians kissing at the end of their wedding ceremony, Hallmark has again reversed course –– and apologized for offending the homosexual community. One Million Moms, a division of the American Family Association, is now calling for a boycott of the channel,” the group said in a recent statement.

“It is the belief of 1MM that same-sex relationships are still extremely controversial and it should be left to parents to bring up the subject with children. It is clear that Hallmark is no longer family friendly, and parents will need to exercise caution before heading to the channel,” they continued.

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