Boycotting Barilla pasta for anti-gay remarks? A couple of suggestions

Gay rights activists have launched a boycott against Barilla after the CEO of the pasta behemoth said he would not use a gay couple in the company’s ads. Guido Barilla’s reasoning: Gays don’t fit in with the image of a “classic family.”

From the Guardian:

“For us the concept of the sacred family remains one of the basic values of the company,” he told Italian radio on Wednesday evening. “I would not do it; but not out of a lack of respect for homosexuals who have the right to do what they want without bothering others … [but] I don’t see things like they do and I think the family that we speak to is a classic family.”

Asked what effect he thought his attitude would have on gay consumers of pasta, Barilla said: “Well, if they like our pasta and our message they will eat it; if they don’t like it and they don’t like what we say they will … eat another.” (Continue reading for more on the Barilla backlash and how the CEO continues to dig himself into a hole.)

Unfortunately for Barilla, the image of the classic family is evolving and his stance is out of step with where we are in 2013. Same-sex marriage is legal in several countries including France, Spain, England, Belgium and Sweden. And we’re making considerable progress in the United States.

Just look at Wednesday night’s episode of “Modern Family.” In the season five opener, viewers not only caught up with prime-time TV’s most popular classic family, but its characters Mitch and Cam got engaged in a poignant proposal. Although the episode acknowledged the Supreme Court ruling in June overturning Proposition 8 and allowing same-sex marriage in California, it was not a political episode. It was a celebration of love, and their family was encouraging every step of the way.

Obviously Barilla’s CEO is free to do as he pleases -- it’s his company. But he should realize that his brand, like all others, has to evolve with the times. As consumers change, so too must companies that want their business. Otherwise, the companies become irrelevant and die off.

In the end, Barilla may end up being his company’s biggest enemy. But for now, gay rights activists are competing for that title with a boycott that could hurt the company’s bottom line.

But is a boycott enough to send a message? Why not also give Barilla exactly what he didn’t want: Images of same-sex couples eating his pasta. Certainly there are a few enterprising designers out there who’d want to whip up some fake ads that’d most certainly go viral. Another route: Ads with famous homophobes with taglines like, “Barilla: Vladimir Putin’s pasta of choice.”

[Updated 10:28 p.m. Sept. 26: The awesome folks at Take Part answered my request with this hilarious commercial.]


Ted Cruz, the GOP's Obama

Daum: Louis C.K., holy man

On Russia's anti-gay laws, Elton John to the rescue? He'll try.

Follow Alexandra Le Tellier on Twitter @alexletellier and Google+

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • Man fatally shot after argument over woman at South Loop lounge
    Man fatally shot after argument over woman at South Loop lounge

    An argument over a woman led to one man being killed and another wounded during a shooting inside a South Loop music lounge early Saturday, police said.

  • Oklahoma fraternity's racist chant learned on a cruise
    Oklahoma fraternity's racist chant learned on a cruise

    Members of a University of Oklahoma fraternity apparently learned a racist chant that recently got their chapter disbanded during a national leadership cruise four years ago that was sponsored by the fraternity's national administration, the university's president said Friday.

  • In NYC building collapse, mayor cites 'inappropriately' tapped gas line; 2 missing
    In NYC building collapse, mayor cites 'inappropriately' tapped gas line; 2 missing

    Someone may have improperly tapped a gas line before an explosion that leveled three apartment buildings and injured nearly two dozen people, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday as firefighters soaked the still-smoldering buildings and police searched for at least two missing people.

  • Emanuel uses borrowing to cope with Daley's debt burden
    Emanuel uses borrowing to cope with Daley's debt burden

    Mayor Rahm Emanuel has reduced spending and increased fines, fees and certain taxes to shrink the chronic budget deficits left over from his predecessor, Richard M. Daley.

  • Six Flags Great America's lost attractions
    Six Flags Great America's lost attractions

    Not every ride's the Willard's Whizzer. That iconic coaster debuted in 1976 when Marriott's Great America, now Six Flags Great America, in Gurnee, Ill., first opened. And it's still popular today. But for every Whizzer there's a Tidal Wave, Shockwave or Z-Force, rides existing only in memory.

  • Denim's just getting started
    Denim's just getting started

    Five years ago, denim-on-denim defied all of the dire warnings in the "Undateable" handbook: Instead of evoking John Denver or Britney Spears in her misstyled youth, chambray shirts paired with darker blue jeans became as cool as actor Johnny Depp and street-style heroine Alexa Chung.