Friday, 27 September 2013

Barilla pasta makes Anti gay remark now gays are attacking them

Pasta chief's anti-gay talk puts company in hot water
Reuters Photo: Max Rossi
A man throws Barilla spaghetti into hot water Friday, Sept. 27, at his home in Rome, Italy.
31 min ago By Steve Scherer of Reuters

ROME — When pasta king Guido Barilla found himself pilloried on social media for saying he would never use a gay family in his advertising, rival pasta maker Buitoni was quick to capitalize.

A picture on its Facebook page from the inside of an open door featured the caption: "At Buitoni's house, there's a place for everyone."

It was a stark demonstration of the rising power of social media: Barilla's comments to a medium-sized Italian radio station Wednesday quickly became a global public relations disaster with a likely damaging effect on sales.

Related: Italy pasta baron's anti-gay comment spurs boycott call

The comments that he would "never" do an ad "with a homosexual family" to a station that has barely more than 2 million daily listeners spread like wildfire on Twitter and Facebook, sparking worldwide calls to boycott Barilla products Thursday.

In his official apology, Barilla said he was sorry "if my words generated misunderstandings and polemics" and "if I offended some people." He said he was trying to say "simply that the woman plays a central role in a family."

The comments will weigh on U.S. sales in the short term, and Barilla's immediate response to the uproar was "muddled and odd," Ashley McCown, a crisis communications expert at Solomon McCown in Boston, told Reuters.

Related: Pasta king under fire walks back anti-gay comments

"In the U.S. people want to feel good about the things they buy and who they buy them from."

The privately owned Barilla company was founded by Guido's great grandfather more than 130 years ago and is the world's biggest pasta maker.

Seeking to boost sales outside of crisis-hit Italy, Barilla has recently focused on expanding in the U.S., its second biggest pasta market, by introducing microwaveable meals and more ready-made sauces.

"I'm Italian, I'm gay, I'm married legally to a man, I have three adopted children. I had Barilla pasta for dinner last night. Today, tomorrow and forever more I will choose another brand of pasta. Good bye Barilla! You lose!!!"

— David De Maria, on Barilla's U.S. Facebook page

His radio comments came after the interviewer asked him about allegations this week from Laura Boldrini, president of the lower house of parliament, that Italian advertising was full of gender stereotyping.

Barilla, whose ads often picture mothers serving their families at the dinner table, disagreed, and was then asked whether he would feature a gay family.

After saying he would not, he spoke at length about his belief in the "classic family," adding however that he supported gay marriage, which is illegal in Italy, but not adoptions by gay couples.

In the U.S., gay marriage is now legal in 13 states and, unlike in Italy, the gay rights movement continues to build momentum and break down barriers.

"I'm Italian, I'm gay, I'm married legally to a man, I have three adopted children. I had Barilla pasta for dinner last night. Today, tomorrow and forever more I will choose another brand of pasta. Good bye Barilla! You lose!!!" David De Maria wrote on Barilla's U.S. Facebook page.


The controversy generated several Internet satires. BuzzFeed featured a picture showing heterosexual couples lovingly eating pasta together with the words: "Spaghetti is straight."

Another image posted widely on Twitter and Facebook showed the trademark blue Barilla pasta box with the letters "Bigotoni" on it, rather than "Rigatoni."

While Barilla's comments were condemned by most, others said the gay community was overreacting.

"We may not agree with him but he is just expressing his opinion and doing it in a respectful way," said JasonD79, who said he was gay, in reaction to a news story on Facebook. "He is not saying gays can't work for them or anything, he is just saying he will not do an ad with a gay family."

Related: Q&A: What anti-gay law in Russia is all about

After its first apology, Barilla posted a second, more contrite version on its U.S. Facebook page several hours later that recognized that it may have offended some of its own employees.

"While we can't undo recent remarks, we can apologize. To all of our friends, family, employees, and partners that we have hurt or offended, we are deeply sorry," it read.

Only time will tell how much the boycott will hurt Barilla, which saw profit tumble 21 percent in 2012.

"In the short term, it is a threat to sales. What's yet to be seen is, is there really going to be a long-term impact?" McCown said.


This man Barilla's statement was certainly not 'anti-gay'! Gay 'families' are as representative of Italian/European society as a black family is representative of British/European society! Why we let these obnoxious minorities, with massive chips on their shoulders, influence ANY decision making is totally absurd!
Let the gays eat Buitoni or some other brand - who gives a flying f**k what their opinions are, not even 1% of the population! (except Mohammedanism, where they are 59%, but that's another story)

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