Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Sophia, Spaghetti, Barilla and the Classic Family

"Spaghetti can be eaten most successfully if you inhale it like a vacuum cleaner."
Sophia Loren

"Everything you see I owe to Spaghetti."
Sophia Loren

The Italian food company Barilla, world's leading pasta maker, was founded in 1877 and is now in the fourth generation of family ownership. It is controlled by three brothers Guido, Luca and Paolo Barilla (via).

On 25th of September 2013, Guido Barilla's attitude to gay consumers sparked a boycott. During an interview the chairman was asked if the company would feature gay families in their advertisments. Guido Barilla answered that they would not because he liked the traditional family and that the "sacral family" remained one of the company's core values. "If gays like our pasta and our advertisings, they will eat our pasta; if they don't like that, they will eat someone else's pasta." (via). Shortly after the interview gay rights activists in Italy launched a boycott accepting the invitation not to eat Barilla's pasta and within hours the hashtag "boicotta-barilla" trended on Twitter (via). Barilla's main competitor "Bertolli" reacted with inclusive messages, pro-gay images, the slogan "Love and pasta for all" and the statement "Bertolli welcomes everyone, especially those with an empty stomach" (via).

Barilla reacted, too. The very next day the chairman apologised and said he was sorry his remarks had caused offence. And on 4th of November (in other words, soon later) the company announced a "Leadership Initiative in Diversity & Inclusion" with steps ranging from the establishment of a Diversity & Inclusion Board to the launch of a global contest. The policies are inspired and based on recommendations of civil and human rights leaders. "We are grateful to those who took the time to share their perspectives with us, and to get to know Barilla as a company. As a socially responsible company that serves and respects diverse consumers, we know we have to expand our commitment." (via)
Barilla produces pasta in over 120 shapes and sizes (via). For a long time, the company seemed to aim to enhance "pasta diversity". Now it has made the step to extend and deepen its understanding of diversity.

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