Last Updated on 27 September 2013

The chairman of Barilla Italian food company, Guido Barilla, was interviewed on Italian radio this week. He is being criticized for making anti-gay comments during the interview. The quote zipping around the internet is that he said his company: “would never show a gay family in his advertising — and if gay people don’t like it they can go eat someone else’s pasta.”

To be fair, this is a paraphrasing of his quote. We’ve got the full quote below.

His comments have started awareness-building boycotts from the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) community and supporters, with demands for grocers to remove the “anti-gay” pasta from store shelves. It has also sparked a round of “pro-gay” sauce and pasta maker ads.

Key Thoughts

A brand’s ability to choose who they cater to is what being a brand is all about.

It is that a brand represents something, stands for something that make it a brand that customers want (or don’t want) to be associated with.

That’s why people put an Apple logo, Under Armour decal, or Confederate Flag bumper sticker on their car.

When a brand tries to be everything to everyone, they cater to no one.

If Barilla prefers not to show gay couples in their ads – that’s their choice. Just the same way Cheerios decided to show mixed-race couples in their ads.

Even more powerful than how a brand behaves, is customer action.

We vote with our wallet and voice our opinions on social media. Good for the community coming together to say, “we disagree with this company’s decision and won’t buy from them.”

The Full Quote

Here is Barilla’s full quote. I think it is important to show the context of his comments.

We have a slightly different culture. For us, the “sacral family” remains one of the company’s core values. Our family is a traditional family. If gays like our pasta and our advertisings, they will eat our pasta; if they don’t like that, they will eat someone else’s pasta. You can’t always please everyone not to displease anyone. I would not do a commercial with a homosexual family, not for lack of respect toward homosexuals – who have the right to do whatever they want without disturbing others – but because I don’t agree with them and I think we want to talk to traditional families. The women are crucial in this.

I respect everyone, they can do what they want without disturbing others. You have the right to do whatever you want in your house without disturbing those around you, claiming more or less legitimate rights. I respect same-sex marriage because that concerns people who want to contract marriage, but I absolutely don’t respect adoptions in gay families, because that concerns a person who is not the people who decide.

Honestly, I don’t find the comments anti-gay as much as pro “stereotypical” family. As to his position that gay adoption is wrong because the child can’t decide… Well, no one gets to choose their parents.

Competitor Responses

So if Barilla is the “let gays decide if they want to buy” company, these brands are pro-gay. Take a look at the reactions and alignment from the competition.

San Remo, Australia
San Remo

Garofalo, Italy
Clever showing different and same shaped pasta arrangements. Roughly, Garofalo says it doesn’t matter who you are with, as long as it is al dente (which is the proper amount to cook pasta).

Beekman 1802, USA
Beekman 1802

Pasta Equality
I don’t see a brand represented with this, but it is a clever image.
Equal Fuscilli

Tuttoumini, Italian Gay Magazine
If Google translate is at all correct, the Italian roughly translates to: Love is for the brave. Everything else is Barilla pasta.

Let Me Ask You…

Should grocery stores pull Barilla product from their shelves? If they don’t – does that mean they are anti-gay?

These images were found on The New Civil Rights Movement website.