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On September 26th, 2013, Guido Barilla, the chairman of the Italian food company Barilla Group, stated in an interview on the radio show La Zanzara that the company would not consider using gay couples in advertisements for their pasta brand because he does not agree with their lifestyles. He went on to emphasize the importance of what he considers a traditional family, stating “If gays like our pasta and our advertising, they will eat our pasta; if they don’t like that, they will eat someone else’s pasta.”
News Media Coverage
On September 26th, news of Barilla’s remarks appeared on dozens of news blogs including the Los Angeles Times, Mediaite, The Independent, Buzzfeed, The Huffington Post and CNN Money, among others. Snopes also verified the statement that day.
On September 26th, “Barilla” was used on Twitter 47,826 times according to Topsy Analytics, up 2910% from the previous day’s 1,623 mentions. Meanwhile on Reddit, approximately 120 posts addressing Barilla’s remark were submitted and Buzzfeed featured a compilation of heated responses from unhappy pasta eaters on social networking sites, including photographs of Barilla pasta being discarded (shown below, left) or destroyed (shown below, center) and photoshopped ads for other pasta brands (shown below, right). Additionally, the hashtags #BoycottBarilla and #BoicottBarilla began to appear throughout Twitter and Tumblr, calling for LGBTQsupporters to stop buying the brand.
Within hours after the interview, Guido Barilla issued a statement on the company’s Facebook page apologizing for any misunderstanding his remarks has caused. He also asserted that he has “the deepest respect” for people of all kinds without distinction, including all same-sex couples, and that the company will continue to represent “the family” in its advertising. In another statement, Barillo tried to clarify what he meant by saying that he “simply wished to underline the central role the woman plays within the family.” Barilla US’s Facebook page also issued a separate apology (shown below), with no specific mention of the chairman’s remarks.
On September 27th, pasta brands Buitoni (shown below, left) and Bertolli (shown below, right) took advantage of Barilla’s gaffe by sharing pro-LGBTQ messages on their official Facebook accounts. That day, these positive messages were shared on a number of advertising sites and internet culture blogs including AdWeek, Consumerist, Business Insider, PR Newser and the Huffington Post.
la Repubblica – “No a famiglie gay negli spot” Bufera sul web contro Barilla (Italian)
Huffington Post – Barilla Chairman Stands By Anti-Gay Ad Policy, Citing Family Values
Los Angeles Times – Guido Barilla says pasta maker will never show gay families in ads
Business Insider – The Pasta Business Is In A State Of Civil War Over Gay Rights