The chairman of pasta company Barilla went on a Radio24 program to explain the company's apparent position against depicting gay couples or families in its advertisements. "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," Guido Barilla said. The executive also told the program's hosts that "if the gays do not agree, they can always eat pasta from another manufacturer," which prompted a swift boycott from advocacy group Equality Italia.
Barilla is the world's largest pasta-maker — it even teamed up with McDonald's in Italy on some co-branded McPasta — and the company typically hosts an immense, carbo-loading pre-marathon dinner each year in New York City. It's a brand with worldwide reach, which is perhaps why it was quick to deliver an apology in a near-supersonic response time, clarifying what it means, exactly, with its slogan "Where there's Barilla, there's home." Here's a translation from the original Italian:
I apologize if my words have generated controversy or misunderstanding, and if they have offended the sensibilities of some people.
For clarity, I wish to point out that I have the deepest respect for all persons, without distinction of any kind.
I have the utmost respect for homosexuals and freedom of expression to anyone.
Barilla in its advertising has always chosen to represent the family because this is the symbol of hospitality and affection for everyone.
The company may manufacture bow-tie-shaped pasta, but that doesn't necessarily make it classy, apparently, and today's statement doesn't exactly clear things up.
Through a spokesperson, the company said that its executive was merely trying to communicate "simply that the woman plays a central role in a family" and that the brand "embraces anyone." So, what about two married women, then? Or for that matter, what about everyone else?
Italian pasta baron's anti-gay comment prompts boycott call [Reuters]
"No a famiglie gay negli spot" Bufera sul web contro Barilla [La Repubblica Parma via The Food Lab/Twitter]