The CEO of popular pasta company Barilla has found himself and his company embroiled in a public relations nightmare after he made homophobic remarks on an Italian radio program.
"I would never make a spot with a homosexual family," Guido Barilla said on the Italy radio program La Zanzara (The Mosquito), according to Italian news agency ANSA. "Not out of a lack of respect but because I do not see it like they do. (My idea of) family is a classic family where the woman has a fundamental role." He went on to say, "That's fine if they like our pasta and our communication, they can eat them. Otherwise, they can eat another pasta."
He also went on to say he doesn't believe gays make good parents. The remarks spread like wildfire across social media, prompting outrage from the gay and straight communities alike. The company’s Facebook page was subjected to a flood of angry posts criticizing Barilla. They later posted this apology:
“At Barilla, we consider it our mission to treat our consumers and partners as our neighbors – with love and respect – and to deliver the very best products possible. We take this responsibility seriously and consider it a core part of who we are as a family-owned company. While we can’t undo recent remarks, we can apologize. To all of our friends, family, employees, and partners that we have hurt or offended, we are deeply sorry.”
The post did nothing to stem the tide of outrage, with many LGBT groups calling for a boycott and many people, gay and straight, saying they will never purchase the company’s pastas or sauces every again. Guido Barilla himself, perhaps aware of the financial damage his remarks may cause the company, backtracked on his comments, saying they didn't reflect his true beliefs. Needless to say that didn't go over too well either.
It’s too soon to say if there will be any lasting damage or if the boycotts will have any major affects. The incident brings to mind the controversy surrounding Chick-Fil-A early this summer when their CEO spoke out against same-sex marriage. While the company experienced a brief burst of support as people against gay rights gathered at restaurants across the country, soon afterwards the company’s profits plummeted.
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