In the aftermath of recent anti-gay statements made by Barilla chairman, Guido Barilla, the pasta company was met with overwhelming outrage by the LGBT community and its supporters. Barilla made the comments during an interview last Wednesday, saying he and his company will not feature any gay families in their advertisements because he supports a “traditional family.” He then followed up by stating that if someone disagrees, well, they can “go eat another brand of pasta.” The next few hours opened a barrage of social media photos of Barilla pasta in various garbage cans, which continues to this day. The social media outlets, like Facebook and Twitter have been capsized with jokes, Photo-shopped pictures of varying new uses for the pasta boxes, and opinionated rants on the accounts of Barilla Pasta. Barilla may be standing by his statements, but it is clear he made a major marketing faux pas by not staying neutral, at least publicly, on such a controversial issue.
Buitoni Pasta, in the wake of these comments, has taken advantage of Barilla’s epic faux pas and has let it be known to the world that they support any lifestyle. On Friday morning, Buitoni posted a photo on Facebook showing tortellini with gender symbols in various relationships. The attention and outpouring of fans, new and old, was a constant on their Facebook and Twitter accounts. Supporters from all over the world and from all sides of the spectrum took turns showing his or her respect, while simultaneously shaming Barilla. This could be considered a marketing mistake also, but here’s the difference: where Barilla outright denied accepting a certain group of people, Buitoni came in a loudly approved of everyone. Sure, they may take a few small hits, but the majority of humans in this world are generally not bigoted to such an extreme.
I am not saying Chairman Barilla is wrong for believing the way he does, as I believe we each have a right to our own thoughts. Though I do not agree with him, in any way on this matter, his critical mistake was telling the world. That does not mean he shouldn’t have spoken it, it just means he now gets to play the waiting game and see what kind of results he will have in the aftermath. My mother used to say, “For every action there is an equal reaction,” and as marketing errors go, this is probably one that will not go away very easily.
I am, of course, a huge supporter of marriage equality and human rights. I happily embrace anyone from any lifestyle, but I also respect our first Amendment right, which allows those whose opinions are different the right to speak it. The first Amendment right gives anyone, no matter how wrong their opinion may seem, or how much of a jerk their opinion makes them out to be, a right to have it. The first Amendment Right also gives me, a writer, a platform from which to call those with bigoted opinions, “jerk.” That’s just my take.
An op-ed written by: Amy Magness Whatley