The conversation occurred on a current-affairs radio show, but we haven’t yet been able to find out what the context was. According to the first appearance of the story in English, Barilla said:
We won’t include gays in our ads, because we like the traditional family. If gays don’t like it, they can always eat another brand of pasta. Everyone is free to do what they want, provided it doesn’t bother anyone else.
Here’s an example of an Italian Barilla ad of the sort that would never feature same-sex parents:
“We accept his invitation to not eat his pasta,” the head of one Italian gay-rights group told reporters. Barilla has about 40% of the pasta market here in the United States, and groups here are calling for a boycott as well.
In a statement earlier today, the company president tried to do some damage control, explaining that the company’s family-centric marketing is meant to be inclusive, not leave anyone out. “Barilla features families in its commercials because it embraces anyone, and they have always been identified with our brand,” his statement said. Yes, maybe the family in the commercials has a gay uncle who’s putting dessert in the oven and just isn’t shown on camera.
“I’m sorry if my comments on La Zanzara have created misunderstanding or polemic, or if I’ve offended anyone. In the interview I only wanted to underline the central role of the woman in the family,” Barilla also said in the statement.