What was Guido Barilla, the Chairman of Pasta Barilla thinking when he said, he would prefer to use the image of a “traditional family” rather than use a gay family to advertise his products? Was his distasteful declaration a result of eating too much penne alla vodka and drinking several carafes of red wine?
He went on to explain while being interviewed by the Italian radio show La Zanzara that “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.”
Wow, Signor Barilla, really? First of all, you as well as anyone else with similar viewpoints, have the right to express your opinion toward a group no matter how harsh or unpopular it sounds to some. At the same time, others have the right to respond to your egregious remarks and try to persuade you to think differently.
As the executive sent shock waves around the world about his position of same sex couples, the social media broadcast his comments faster than the speed of sound, and he was in full damage control a day later by creating a video on his Facebook page apologizing for his anti-gay remarks and appearing contrite by admitting he “has much to learn” about the constant evolution of what a family in the twenty-first century means.
Unfortunately, his apology is a bit too late because right now the wound is still fresh and painful for those who it intended to harm. Furthermore, we can also presume that his two brothers who are part of the company and other board members, probably pressured Guido to begin repairing the damage Barilla products will undoubtedly suffer in the short term. For the past month, several social media sites have announced a boycott is underway against Barilla products. Will this however, really have an impact on Barilla sales?
According to Forbes “Boycotts can be very effective… Target contributed $150,000 to a conservative Republican gubernatorial candidate that opposed same-sex marriage, gay rights groups and moveon.org was quick to announce a boycott. LGBT groups cut Target no slack for extending benefits to same-sex partners and withheld their sizable purchasing power from what had been a favored store.” It is still too early to determine whether this boycott, started in Italy by gay and lesbian organizations, will hurt the company’s pockets. Nevertheless, we must accept the fact that Signor Barilla is sincere about his comments when he mentions the fact that he “has much to learn” about same sex couples and is willing to listen to the voice of reason.
In addition, Guido must have heard Pope Francis eloquently express his position on homosexuality. Yes, the person with the highest position in the Vatican is hinting that tolerance must be the new path of the Church. For example, Michael Gryboski a reporter from the Christian Post recently wrote, “Pope Francis said in the interview that the catechism, or the Roman Catholic Church’s official doctrine book, condemns homosexual acts, but he called on the Church to love gays and lesbians, who must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity.” Perhaps, Signor Barilla can repent while listening to Pope Francis and learn a thing or two about changing with the times.
Here is another idea; Guido should be more concerned about using his brand in a more meaningful way, instead of strongly suggesting that he rather not use same sex couples in commercials for they do not represent the idea of a traditional family, why does he not focus his time and energy on groups and/or individuals who represent his country in a poor and shameful way. For instance, Italy’s former premier was convicted by an Italian court for soliciting prostitutes, and for allegedly having a consummate relationship with an underage girl.
Imagine a country today driven by its deep rooted Roman Catholic values and at one time led by someone deciding on policies that have a direct impact on families, while he conducts himself as a megalomaniac who has a salacious appetite for bullying and sex, similar to many Roman Emperors.
Signor Barilla, if you truly want to listen and fix this problem that you admit you have created, why not begin a campaign about who should not represent the idea of a family, like the one-time controversial leader of Italy and his cohorts. If you choose this path, Barilla sales would skyrocket overnight and regain its place on the shelves of food pantries in many family households.