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Barilla pasta rival says it welcomes gays

The Local/AFP · 27 Sep 2013, 13:16

Published: 27 Sep 2013 13:16 GMT+02:00

Buitoni seized on the opportunity within hours of Guido Barilla telling Italy's Radio24 on Thursday that he is "from a traditional family, and will never have an advert with a gay family".

“For us the concept of the family is sacred...we will not do a gay advert because ours is a traditional family,” Barilla was quoted in Corriere della Sera as saying.

Buitoni's Facebook posting  has so far received 1,600 'likes', with one commentator saying "Well done Buitoni. For sure, I'll come home, starting from the supermarket."

Check out how other Italians reacted to the remarks in The Local's vox pop gallery.

Barilla, the leading pasta company in Italy and a major exporter worldwide with a turnover last year of €3.9bn took to social media to say sorry following the backlash.

"While we can't undo recent remarks, we can apologize. To all our friends, family, employees and partners that we have hurt or offended, we are deeply sorry," the family-owned company said on its US Facebook page.

One commenter responded: "I'm Italian, I'm gay, I'm married legally to a man, I have three adopted children. I had Barilla pasta for dinner last night. Today, tomorrow and forever more I will choose another brand of pasta. Good bye Barilla! You lose!"

Barilla's comments provoked scorn and derision on other social media, with many critics playing on the company's slogan: "Where there is Barilla, there is a home".

One spoof commercial seen on Twitter read: "Where there is Barilla, there is homophobia". Another said: "Where there is my home, there is no Barilla".

Guido Barilla stressed that he was personally not homophobic and was in favour of gay marriage but he made a distinction with what the company was willing to include in its television commercials.

The comments threw a spotlight on an Italian adland inhabited by smiling housewives, large broods of children and husbands whose only role in the kitchen appears to be to taste the food and sit down to eat, which critics say is now hopelessly outdated.

"We have to overcome stereotypes," Italy's speaker of parliament Laura Boldrini said at a conference earlier in the week before the Barilla scandal
exploded.

"I am thinking of certain ads in Italy in which the father and children are sitting at the table while the mother is standing and serving everyone," she said.

The images no longer reflect Italian realities -- where the number of housewives is decreasing and where a growing number of men are stay-at-home fathers.

More and more gay and lesbian couples are also choosing to live together, even though their unions are not officially recognised under Italian law.

Story continues below…

The days when eager visitors would queue up to see the Mulino Bianco, a white windmill in Tuscany that was chosen as a symbol for a famous brand of biscuits also owned by Barilla, are apparently over.

"The parade of women busying themselves with pots and pans, serving and looking after their husbands and children in ads, do they mirror Italian society?" asked Annamaria Testa, an advertising expert.

"Are we really sure they sell more?" she said.

Speaking at a conference of the Italian advertising association UPA earlier this year, Testa said that employing stereotypes was "a dangerous trap".

"Let's finally be truthful!" she said.

The Local/AFP (news@thelocal.it)

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