Barilla pasta got into some hot water six weeks ago after AMERICAblog exclusively broke the news that the Italian giant’s chairman, Guido Barilla, told an Italian radio show that the company would never put gay people in its advertising.
Barilla added that if gays didn’t like it, they could buy someone else’s pasta.
So they did.
What happened next was a textbook case of Gay David vs. Corporate Goliath in the Internet age, with Barilla issuing no fewer than four apologies in a failed attempt to quell the growing consumer and media meltdown of its once-famed “family” brand.
Fast forward to today, and there are signs that Barilla got the message. (Albeit, six weeks late.) It still remains unclear, however, if change is on the horizon, and whether Barilla will be taking “bigotoni” off the menu for good.
Barilla says it’s reached out to gay representatives in the US and Italy, though we have no details about any of that outreach, other than the fact that gay political icon David Mixner is involved, which is always good. But beyond that, who knows. Barilla certainly never reached out to us, and we broke the story.
It will be interesting to see if Barilla follows the usual corporate path of parlaying with the large gay groups who have become increasingly irrelevant to the online direction that civil rights, and all progressive activism, has gone in the past twenty years. They always try to broker a deal with the people who didn’t get them in trouble, thinking that somehow this will appease the people who did get them in trouble. And it rarely works.
Specifically, Barilla has created an “advisory board to promote diversity.” As Kathleen Sebelius would say….
I want to know if the company has a comprehensive LGBT anti-discrimination policy, for starters, and how many openly gay people it has in any kind of senior position anywhere in the company.
Next, they promise a new advertising campaign that’s more inclusive. Hmm. That’s really the cruz of the problem, that Barilla said they wouldn’t include gays in their ads. Let’s see some gays in their ads, and let’s see the advertising budget, where the ads run, how often they run, whether any actually run in gay media (and straight media), not to mention on the gay blogs. (And absolutely Barilla should run ads in the straight media, but they should also show support for the gay media here and at home as well.)
Make those changes, then we’ll talk.