Italian pasta and the gay ad row: Mr. Barilla makes shift u-turn

THIS IS QUITE AN INTERESTING STORY, NOT ONLY BECAUSE IT INVOLVES ONE OF THE MOST RENOWED ITALIAN COMPANY, BUT ALSO BECAUSE BARILLA  HAS ALWAYS BEEN REFERRED TO AS “THE PASTA MAKER” PAR EXCELLENCE , AND PASTA AS WE KNOW IS ONE OF THE ICONIC SYMBOLS OF THE ITALIAN CULTURE  AROUND THE WORLD.

LETS TAKE A LOOK AT WHAT HAPPENED. LAST SEPTEMBER MR BARILLA 55 THE HEAD OF THE BARILLA GROUP SAID THAT THE COMPANY FOUNDED IN 1877 WAS ONLY INTERSTED IN PORTRAYING THE “CLASSIC FAMILY” IN ITS ADS. HE SAID HE WOULD NOT WANT GAYS OR LESBIANS IN TV OR PRINT COMMERCIALS “NOT OUT OF A LACK OF RESPECT FOR HOMOSEXUALS, HE SAID WHO HAVE THE RIGHT TO DO WHAT THEY WANT WITHOUT BOTHERING OTHERS, BUT – AND HE CONTINUED – I DON’T SEE THINGS LIKE THEY DO AND I THINK THE FAMILY THAT WE SPEAK TO IS A CLASSIC FAMILY”.

AS YOU CAN IMAGINE HIS REMARKS PROMPTED GAY ACTIVISTS NOT JUST IN ITALY BUT IN OTHER COUNTRIES TOO TO CALL FOR A BOYCOTT OF THE COMPANY. THE FIRM WAS ALSO WIDELY MOCKED ON SOCIAL MEDIA SITES FOR WHAT CRITICS SAID WERE OUTDATED COMMERICIALS SHOWING STEREOTYPICAL MOTHERS SERVING PLATES OF SPAGHETTI TO THEIR HUSBANDS AND CHILDREN.

AS A RESULT OF THIS BARILLA NOT ONLY HAS DECIDED TO MAKE MORE LET’S SAY “INCLUSIVE” ADS BUT ALSO TO SET UP AN ADVISORY BOARD TO PROMOTE DIVERSITY AND HIRED AN EQUAL RIGHTS CAMPAIGNER .

IN THE LONG TERM BARILLA IS ALSO AIMING TO BE INCLUDED IN THE FAMOUS CORPORATE EQUALITY INDEX. ITS AN ANNUAL CHART COMPILED BY THE HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN THAT AWARDS THE MOST “GAY FRIENDLY” COMPANIES IN THE STATES.

A SPOKESMAN FOR THE COMPANY LUCA VIRGINIO, HAS SAID THAT ITALY WAS A VERY “INSULAR COUNTRY” AND PARMA, THE CITY IN THE NORTHEN REGION OF EMILIA ROMAGNA WHERE THE COMPANY IS BASED EVEN MORE SO. THE COMMENT IN MY OPINION SOUNDS QUITE SURPRSING CONSIDERING THAT THE US IS THE COMPANY’S SECOND LARGEST MARKET FOR PASTATHIS IS WHY THE NEW INITIATIVE IS MAINLY TARGETED AT THE US WHERE THOSE COMMENTS WENT DOWN BADLY.

BARILLA CERTAINLY CANNOT AFFORD TO ALIENATE ITS CUSTOMERS AT A TIME WHEN ITALY AND MANY OTHER COUNTRIES ARE STILL STRUGGLING TO EMERGE FROM RECESSION. THE COMPANY’S NET PROIST FELL BY MORE THAN 20 PER CENT LAST YEAR.

 

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