OpinionOpinion L.A.

Boycotting Barilla pasta for anti-gay remarks? A couple of suggestions

Economy, Business and FinanceSocial IssuesCorporate OfficersSame-Sex MarriageGay RightsCrime, Law and JusticeRussia

Gay rights activists have launched a boycott against Barilla after the CEO of the pasta behemoth said he would not use a gay couple in the company’s ads. Guido Barilla’s reasoning: Gays don’t fit in with the image of a “classic family.”

From the Guardian:

“For us the concept of the sacred family remains one of the basic values of the company,” he told Italian radio on Wednesday evening. “I would not do it; but not out of a lack of respect for homosexuals who have the right to do what they want without bothering others … [but] I don’t see things like they do and I think the family that we speak to is a classic family.”

Asked what effect he thought his attitude would have on gay consumers of pasta, Barilla said: “Well, if they like our pasta and our message they will eat it; if they don’t like it and they don’t like what we say they will … eat another.” (Continue reading for more on the Barilla backlash and how the CEO continues to dig himself into a hole.)

Unfortunately for Barilla, the image of the classic family is evolving and his stance is out of step with where we are in 2013. Same-sex marriage is legal in several countries including France, Spain, England, Belgium and Sweden. And we’re making considerable progress in the United States.

Just look at Wednesday night’s episode of “Modern Family.” In the season five opener, viewers not only caught up with prime-time TV’s most popular classic family, but its characters Mitch and Cam got engaged in a poignant proposal. Although the episode acknowledged the Supreme Court ruling in June overturning Proposition 8 and allowing same-sex marriage in California, it was not a political episode. It was a celebration of love, and their family was encouraging every step of the way.

Obviously Barilla’s CEO is free to do as he pleases -- it’s his company. But he should realize that his brand, like all others, has to evolve with the times. As consumers change, so too must companies that want their business. Otherwise, the companies become irrelevant and die off.

In the end, Barilla may end up being his company’s biggest enemy. But for now, gay rights activists are competing for that title with a boycott that could hurt the company’s bottom line.

But is a boycott enough to send a message? Why not also give Barilla exactly what he didn’t want: Images of same-sex couples eating his pasta. Certainly there are a few enterprising designers out there who’d want to whip up some fake ads that’d most certainly go viral. Another route: Ads with famous homophobes with taglines like, “Barilla: Vladimir Putin’s pasta of choice.”

[Updated 10:28 p.m. Sept. 26: The awesome folks at Take Part answered my request with this hilarious commercial.]

ALSO:

Ted Cruz, the GOP's Obama

Daum: Louis C.K., holy man

On Russia's anti-gay laws, Elton John to the rescue? He'll try.

Follow Alexandra Le Tellier on Twitter @alexletellier and Google+

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
Economy, Business and FinanceSocial IssuesCorporate OfficersSame-Sex MarriageGay RightsCrime, Law and JusticeRussia
  • A U.S.-Russia proxy war in Ukraine would be an unwelcome echo of the Cold War
    A U.S.-Russia proxy war in Ukraine would be an unwelcome echo of the Cold War

    International outrage over the downing of a Malaysian passenger plane over Ukraine on July 17 does not appear to have affected either the actions of pro-Russia forces in that country or the material support Russia is offering the rebels. On Wednesday, the separatists apparently shot down two...

  • Executions should not be run by trial and error
    Executions should not be run by trial and error

    For the third time this year, state executioners administering a lethal injection to a condemned man have botched it. This time it happened in Arizona, where it took nearly two hours Wednesday to kill convicted murderer Joseph Wood using the same two-drug protocol involved in Ohio's...

  • L.A. County should invest $20 million to keep mentally ill out of jail
    L.A. County should invest $20 million to keep mentally ill out of jail

    After years of doing far too little to divert mentally ill people from jail, Los Angeles County leaders now seem to realize that they must step up the pace. The Board of Supervisors can demonstrate that it is serious about better mental health treatment and more responsible jail management...

  • A vote for Scotland's independence could reverberate through NATO
    A vote for Scotland's independence could reverberate through NATO

    Novelist and longtime Scotland resident J.K. Rowling did not mention national security issues when she recently donated 1 million pounds ($1.71 million) to the Better Together Campaign, which wants Scottish voters to reject the independence option in the Sept. 18 referendum. Rowling —...

  • Obamacare court ruling is nonsensical and cynical
    Obamacare court ruling is nonsensical and cynical

    At last count, more than 8 million people are getting healthcare through an Obamacare exchange. Almost three-quarters of them are using the federal exchange. These millions of Americans ought to be able to finally leave behind the stress of living with no insurance or inadequate or...

  • Don't blame American kids for this low science ranking
    Don't blame American kids for this low science ranking

    People complain all the time about how badly American kids do in all those international rankings of science and math knowledge. Usually, the students score somewhere around average or a little below, not a great place for a pre-eminent nation. We’re routinely outdone by the likes of China,...

Comments
Loading