Earlier this week, the CEO of Barilla Pasta created a world of hurt for himself after telling an Italian media outlet that the company would never feature a same-sex couple in any of its ads.
Appearing on an Italian radio program, Guido Barilla said that he would never make a commercial that featured a “homosexual family.” He went on to claim that his reasons were not because of a “lack of respect,” but because he doesn’t see things “as they do.”
“Ours is a classic family where the woman plays a fundamental role,” Barilla continued. “If [gays] don’t like it, they can go eat another brand.”
Pouncing immediately on the comments, Barilla competitor Bertolli Germany posted a photo to its Facebook page with the caption, “Pasta and love for all,” along with revisiting a 2011 commercial that featured gay couples.
According to a report in Forbes, the LGBT community has tremendous purchasing power that amounts to roughly $800 billion annually. Numerous examples show how comments like this can affect a corporation, and it’s usually just a matter of time before the offending speaker has to issue an apology.
As expected, Guido Barilla has been pressured to walk back his comments and posted the following apology to the company’s Facebook page:
I apologize if my words have led to misunderstandings or controversy, and have bumped the sensibilities of some people.
For clarity I would like to point out that I have the deepest regards for any person, without distinction.
I have the utmost respect for homosexuals and for freedom of expression to anyone.
I also said and repeat that [I respect] marriages between persons of the same sex.
Barilla in its advertising has always chosen to represent the family because this is a symbol of welcome (sic) and affection for everyone.
The apology may have come too late, however. An LGBT boycott of the company has already caught fire on social media and has spread over Italian borders, attracting wider European and international attention.
Watch the apology Barilla uploaded to the company’s Facebook page in the video below.