Recently, the world’s leading pasta maker, The Barilla Group, came into a bit of hot water after chairman, Guido Barilla, said that he would never feature a gay family in his advertisements.
Barilla said that he prefers the “traditional” family and that if anyone thinks differently, well, they can go “eat another brand of pasta.”
The remarks were made during an Italian radio interview, after the host asked him why his ads never feature gay families.
Barilla’s comments have been translated for non-Italian-speaking news sites, but his words seem to be much further reaching than Barilla anticipated.
According to International news-source Reuters:
“U.S. and international gay rights supporters called on Friday for a boycott of Italian pasta maker Barilla, whose chairman said he would never feature a gay family in its advertising.
The comments sparked a firestorm of protest on social media and resulted in online petitions in English, German and Italian, including one by Italian playwright and Nobel Prize winner Dario Fo.
A MoveOn.org petition started by Beth Allen, a Takoma Park, Maryland, mother of two and a lesbian, garnered 85,000 signatures by Friday evening.
“Guido Barilla made it clear how he felt about families like mine by saying that he’d never show gay families in advertisements for Barilla,” Allen said in her petition.
“He said that gays could eat another pasta if they didn’t like his message. I’m taking him up on that and so should you,” she said.”
During his Italian interview, Barilla said that he respects the role of women too much to show a gay family: “I would never do (a commercial) with a homosexual family, not for lack of respect but because we don’t agree with them. Ours is a classic family where the woman plays a fundamental role.”
However, after his comments went viral, Barilla took to Facebook and began back-tracking, claiming that he didn’t mean to offend.
“It is clear that I have a lot to learn about the lively debate concerning the evolution of the family,” he apologized.
Watch his sub-titled amendment here.
Still, some equal-rights activists are saying that boycotting Barilla products is not enough. Instead, there’s been a cry for pro-gay ads from more supportive pasta brands.
Bertolli, for example, also took to Facebook to declare their pro-gay family status, posting a picture featuring varying pasta-shaped “couples.”
And while many are saying that Bertolli is being intelligently adventageous in the wake of Barilla’s unfortunate comments, others point out that Bertolli has long been more open-minded, supporting gay families with ads such as this one in 2009:
And while it’s definitely not clear how this will affect Barilla’s business both in the near future or in the long run, one thing is certain: pro-gay and equal-rights advocates are trying to send a message to Barilla in a way that all companies seemingly understand, the almighty dollar—or the lack of it.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise