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Barilla Pasta Wants to Woo You Back

Jim Burroway

November 5th, 2013

Italian pasta maker Barilla found itself in a big ol’ pot of hot water a month ago when the company’s chief, Guido Barilla, told an Italian radio program, “I would never do an advert with a homosexual family…if the gays don’t like it they can go an eat another brand.” Gays have decided to do just that. Barilla has tried several bumbling attempts at apologizing, particularly Barilla’s American subsidiary, which found itself in the entirely untenable and incredible position of trying to distance itself from its own mothership.

Now the Barilla bosses in Italy are making another stab at making good:

Chairman Barilla, the 55-year-old great grandson of the company’s founder, has since held at least eight meetings with gay organizations and activists both in Italy and in the United States, a market where it is counting on for growth outside its crisis-hit home market.

“Italy is a very insular country, and in cities like Parma it’s even more so,” company spokesman Luca Virginio told Reuters, saying the firm had been shocked by the global backlash.

“The meetings have helped open our eyes and ears to the evolution taking place in the world outside Parma.”

He said the shock could lead to a shift in focus from rosy depictions of traditional Italian family life that have always been the staple of Barilla advertising campaigns.

Barillo has announced an advisory board with American gay activist David Mixner as a member. It’s still way to early to tell whether this represents a real change with the privately-owned company or if it will wind up being nothing more than a marketing campaign. As far as I’m concerned, they can keep the ads showing traditional Italian family life. Just show some gay families from time to time, and not in segregated media. Until I see more visible changes, I personally plan on staying with some of the other brands for the time being.

Comments

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jpeckjr
November 5th, 2013 | LINK

I’m glad to see Barilla is engaging with the world beyond it’s home base in Italy.

On the other hand, the store I shop has a wide choice of pasta brands and I generally buy what’s on sale. I prefer to buy pasta made in the United States by American-based makers. I know Barilla has a plant in Iowa, but, even if they become the gayest pasta company around, I’m probably not going to buy Barilla again, ever. Not like there’s a pasta brand shortage.

Bose in St. Peter MN
November 5th, 2013 | LINK

Yeah, they’re still not getting it if “rosy depictions of traditional Italian family life” are antithetical to including the gay uncles or aunts.

Lindoro Almaviva
November 5th, 2013 | LINK

The way i read it elsewhere, Barilla is asking people to create depictions of family life and then they could win prizes if they win some sort of contest.

This is not a change, since none of these ads will be done by Barilla not there is any promise that any of the customer generated content will be published on Italian, let alone global TV.

It all seems like “come fill our YouTube page so we can say we have gay ads, even though none of them will ever be used on TV or professionally developed.”

I am still not buying Barilla. And since i discovered that I live less than a mile from a Pasta shop, why should I buy that dry stuff when i can buy it fresh?

Rosa, I miss you. Please come back from Italy soon!

Soren456
November 5th, 2013 | LINK

I don’t buy or cook that much pasta. But I’ve lately fallen in love with Store Brand, an impertinent little thing with a snappy bite. I’d urge everyone to try it.

Ray
November 5th, 2013 | LINK

Until I see Jim Burroway in a Barilla commercial sucking on one end of a spaghetti string with his husband sucking on the other end over a big plate of spaghetti and meatballs, I’m not buying.

jerry
November 5th, 2013 | LINK

I love pasta, but I’m diabetic so it’s no longer a large element of my diet. *SIGH* I don’t think Barilla has much chance of getting back on my shopping list. After all at 75 they don’t have a lot of time to work on it. I could consider buying a box of their pasta if they included an all expense trip to Parma for a week or two…with every box I buy.

Timothy Kincaid
November 5th, 2013 | LINK

“And since i discovered that I live less than a mile from a Pasta shop, why should I buy that dry stuff when i can buy it fresh?”

I’m seething with jealousy. I make much of my own pasta, but some things are too complicated for my little pasta roller so I’m stuck with dried boxed crap.

Patrick C
November 5th, 2013 | LINK

I eat tons of pasta and the only name brand at my store is Barilla. I’m not buying theirs anymore and am having to get creative. I’m glad they are feeling the backlash. They told me to go elsewhere and I have. It’s their own bigoted fault.

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