The chairman of the international pasta giant Barilla created controversy Wednesday by saying his company
would never use a gay family in its advertising.
“I would never do (a commercial) with a homosexual family, not for lack of respect but because we don’t agree with them,” Guido Barilla said in an interview with Italy’s Radio 24. “Ours is a classic family where the woman plays a fundamental role.”
The remark came in response to a direct question asking whether the company would include a homosexual in its advertisements that depict idyllic Italian families sitting down to dinner over a hearty pasta meal.
Guido Barilla had said earlier in the interview that while he was in favour of gay marriage, currently illegal in Italy, he did not think it was appropriate for a gay couple to adopt a child. If gay people did not like his company’s advertising, Barilla said they can choose to eat another brand.
Unsurprisingly, Guido Barilla’s comments were not taken kindly by portions of Italy’s gay community. The gay rights group Equality Italia has organised a boycott of Barilla.
With news of the incident now making its way to the United States, anti-Barilla sentiments are sure to pick up steam in the same way Chick-Fil-A’s support of heterosexual-only marriage spawned a backlash from pro-marriage equality consumers in the summer of 2012.
The damage to Barilla’s brand remains to be seen. In fact, some research suggests Chick-Fil-A’s brand was helped by the attention generated by the outrage over president Dan Cathy’s comments.
Guido Barilla (sort of) apologized in a statement Thursday, saying that he was only trying to say that “the woman plays a central role in a family.”
“Barilla features families in its commercials because it embraces anyone, and they have always been identified with our brand,” he said.
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