Wednesday, in an interview on Radio 24’s La Zanzara, Guido Barilla, president of the Italian pasta company named after his family, likely cost the company millions by defending Barilla’s “vaguely different family culture”. When asked if Barilla would ever run an ad with a family anchored by same-sex parents, he replied: “We have a vaguely different culture. For us it is the sacred family which remains a fundamental value of the company. I would never do a spot with a homosexual family. Not for a lack of respect but because I don’t think about it as they do, our perception of a family is classic where the woman has a fundamental role… Our family is a traditional one.”
Barilla’s domestic advertisements are rather infamous and eloquently centered around the Italian food culture, which famously brings people together in a familial setting. The company's slogan frequently reads, “Where there is Barilla, there is home."
Giuseppe Cruciani and David Parenzo, conductors of the interview, addressed the homophobic nature of Barilla’s comments and their relevance to Barilla’s gay consumers, who also (presumably) eat pasta. Barilla responded, “Very well, if they like our pasta and our communication, then they will eat it, otherwise, they can eat another kind of pasta. One can’t be liked by everyone.”
He later added, “I respect everyone, they can do what they like without disturbing the others. I am also in favor of same-sex marriages, but I am not for adoption by gay families. As the father of many sons, I believe it is very complicated to raise children in a same-sex couple.
Moments later the news went viral, birthing a social media protest under the hashtag #BoycottBarilla promising to “never again let the red-blue boxes in your house.” The Boycott Barilla Facebook page, of French origin, is up and running. Media outlets across Europe, including Reuters, l’Ansa, L’Independent, and the Guardian reported the president’s scandalous gaffe, citing Italy's conservative political nature, largely influenced by the Catholic Church, as responsible for keeping the country behind with regards to equality and gay rights.
It’s not a proud moment for Made in Italy. At a time when Italian products are suffering internationally, Guido Barilla picked up the shovel to dig his own grave, losing the support of not only gay families, but also advocates for equality in Italy and abroad.