Barilla Chairman Meets With LGBT Groups In An Attempt To Reverse Global Boycott

Guido Barilla, the disgraced chairman of Barilla pasta who made international headlines for his antigay remarks last month, met with Italian LGBT associations yesterday in Bologna, northern Italy.

The company has suffered an onslaught of bad press and global boycotts after Mr. Barilla told a reporter: “I would never do [a commercial] with a homosexual family, not for lack of respect but because we don’t agree with them. Ours is a classic family where the woman plays a fundamental role.”

The comments sparked an international outcry. Mr. Barilla has been groveling ever since, issuing several apologizes, including a video apology in which he said he feels “depressed and saddened” by the situation he’s created.

(Poor guy.)

On Monday, Mr. Barilla met with five different LGBT organizations: Arcigay, Arcilesbica, Famiglie Arcobaleno, Gaynet, and Equality Italia. The meeting was held at the Regione Emilia-Romagna headquarters, where former Arcigay president and now regional councillor Franco Grillini has his office.

In an interview with GayStarNews, Grillini said: “We spoke about the company’s policies and about the impact on the LGBT community worldwide. Mr. Barilla apologized once again and told us they are really worried for the boycotting in North America. The news had a big impact in the United States and they went to the U.S. last week to reinforce their presence in that country.”

He added that Barilla may feature LGBT people in future ads, though he’s not entirely certain.

“We have to meet again and to discuss their new ads,” Grillini said. “They’ll probably do something for our community. They have understood that LGBTs have a strong power.”

A strong power, indeed. And we’re not stupid either. Simply featuring LGBT people in future ads likely isn’t going to make people forgive and forget.

In an interview with USA Today, Rich Ferraro, GLAAD’s Vice President of Communications, suggested a solution of his own the pasta giant might consider: provide financial assistance to LGBT organizations in Italy, where the company is based.

“I think the public backlash shows that homophobia is bad for business today because we’re living in a world where LGBT people are respected and accepted,” Ferraro said. “That wasn’t the case five years ago.”

Barilla’s profits tumbled 21 percent in 2012. Those profits will no doubt fall even further after this scandal, which doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon.

While we appreciate Mr. Barilla’s efforts to smooth things over, we have to say: Now that we’ve switched to DeCecco, we kind of like them better.

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  • 2eo

    But we’ve being told again and again by the less intelligent members that boycott’s do not work.

  • yaoming

    Good luck with that.
    Pasta’s not good for you, anyway.

  • Wayne_in_NYC

    @yaoming: Tell that to the Italians who have the 4th highest life expectancy in the world, compared to the United States which is 33rd. It’s not the pasta, but what goes on it and is eaten with it. Barilla has some of the healthiest pastas made with high fiber and whole wheat varieties. It’s a shame they are made by such a homophobe!

  • Sparkyu1

    Barilla needs to sponsor a competition – something like the Most Original Barilla Guy, make sure they buy advertising for it with some GBLTQ sites and they’ll be sure to get some passionate defenders no matter what homophobia they espouse or support.

    Other than that – why would any GBLTQ person buy Barilla unless Barilla starts throwing substantial support at GBLTQ people? We have 2 (well, several) choices:

    1) Pasta from a company that actively dismisses us and overtly told us not to buy their brand then did a quick PR reversal

    2) Pasta from a company that didn’t.

    Even if they apologise or bring out a token advert – why would we choose option 1 (homophobic company that apologised) over option 2 (company that avoided homophobia in the first place?)

  • Greg Garavani

    Too late, damage is done. I haven’t purchased Barilla since and found an excuse to buy a real whole wheat alternative anyway that’s made in the USA.

  • Will L

    I’m not sure you can call this a “boycott.” He DID say that we should buy our pasta elsewhere so we did. Be careful what you wish for?

    One thing that companies often fail to realize is that it is much harder to get business back once you’ve lost it.

    As I’ve said before, he isn’t sorry he said what he did. He’s sorry he’s losing sales. :)

  • Volvoguy

    Can you say resignation, that will start the smoothing
    process real quick, I believe the damage is beyond repair.
    Lot of fence mending before we buy their products again.
    Probably never again!!

  • Kieran

    Talk is cheap. Guido’s submission to a bare ass public spanking across Orlando Cruz’ lap might indicate true remorse.

  • jonjct

    there is no massive international boycott. stop kidding yourselves.

  • erichinnw

    I emailed Barilla after the news broke and told them that if they didn’t want my money, I was more than happy to oblige. Not gonna lie, it’s been hard buying pasta that isn’t made by them though. At my grocery store, the non-Barilla made pasta is behind a big pillar with not much room to fit in. Barilla’s PR department emailed me a stupid, “Please think of us during this controversy” email which has only furthered my resolve. I don’t care if other people say a boycott doesn’t work. I refuse to spend my hard-earned money on a company that eventually profits homophobes.

  • marc sfe

    @Wayne_in_NYC: Actually, the pasta Italians eat is very different form what is here. Wheat here is GMO AND it’s enriched.

  • marc sfe

    @Wayne_in_NYC: And, pasta is a side dish, not a main in Italy.

  • Cyn

    Might be why it’s buy one get one free at my regular grocer now.

  • dewin

    Guido’s too late apology- boycotts do work, you know-

  • sharkskin40

    Here in Palm Springs, grocery stores have Barilla pasta marked down to 70 cents a box and it is not moving.

  • Tommysole

    I stopped using their brand 5 seconds after I heard what that asshole said. I loved it, bought it, and recommended it to friends………….Not anymore!

    Now, I use a pasta maker I bought from a friend, or I buy my pasta in bulk from Costco. Barilla can piss off as far as I care.

  • Ruhlmann

    He didn’t call for our deaths for christs sake. Does anyone ever get forgiven for stupidity? Untwist your knickers boys, he’s a pasta salesman.

  • redspyder

    @Ruhlmann: I forgive you.

  • zrocqs

    @redspyder: Nice!

  • Geoff B

    @sharkskin40: Good to hear. There’s plenty of other good pasta out there.

  • Red_Dragon_888

    As stated, “I think the public backlash shows that homophobia is bad for business today because we’re living in a world where LGBT people are respected and accepted,” Ferraro said. “That wasn’t the case five years ago.” I just love him more and more,… oh, for being blind to the fact that he is a homophobic back then and always.

  • Cam

    “”Mr. Barilla apologized once again and told us they are really worried for the boycotting in North America. The news had a big impact in the United States and they went to the U.S. last week to reinforce their presence in that country.””

    Wait a second, where are all of the trolls who always come on here to scream that boycotts don’t work?!

  • GlitterKidder

    @erichinnw: I’m with you! I emailed the company and received the same canned, un-thoughtful response, “we’re using this as a learning experience”, really?
    I know the boycott must be effective, every grocery store in my area has the product on sale, every style for $.99.

  • Spike

    He said what he meant and he meant what he said, the first time.

    He’s just back pedaling for economic reason and the LGBT groups that allow themselves to be used like this are the same LGBT hos that jump in bed with homophobes for the publicity.

  • JohnnyRalph

    @yaoming: Who cares? If you never eat tasty food, you can’t enjoy life.

  • smudge

    I want to start out by saying I am a fan of Barilla’s quality pasta products!
    Now I am sure Barilla is interested in my demographics for marketing and research purposes so here they are:
    1. 64 years old
    2. Male
    3. Reside in coastal Maine, USA
    4. College degree
    5. Employed with one of the top health care companies in the world
    6. Household income – Over $150,000.00
    7. Been in a committed GAY relationship for 35 years

    So I guess #7 means Barilla is not interested in my business, well that is OK I can still purchase what I like, after all this is the USA!!!

    Speaking of Barilla’s business, what is the deal with their 2012 tumbled profits-what caused that, Mr. “Guido” Barillo made his antigay comments in September 2013? Maybe the Company’s “people” need to look at what their Chairman is or is NOT doing. I do not think apologies are going to fix anything for the Company, we all know actions speak louder than words. Watch out WORLD “WE” are breaking out and COMING OUT!!

  • Elloreigh

    @Ruhlmann: In a word, no. What he ‘sold’ when he did that interview was the acceptability of disrespecting gay people and especially same-sex couples raising children.

    I’m not calling for his death in return. I’m asking people to think carefully about the purchasing choices they make, and what/who profits from them.

  • EvonCook

    When something like this hits the news, I always want to make sure it is what and how it has been reported as. But once hate, bigotry or discrimination is out of the bag, then, there is no easy make-up or apology or even appeasement. These folks have just demonstrated and shown themselves not just to be business and media un-savvy, but to be literally and often willfully, self righteously ignorant and crudely biased and even hateful. And it is exactly those attitudes, like religious doctrine and teachings, that foster and promote bashing and violence from the less restrained and less civilized, not to mention perpetuating self hate, guilt and inferiority complexes and suffering among our community. I can tell you I WILL NEVER buy Barilla. They would have to actually become a gay company to change my mind! And every company does not have to feature gays in their advertising or even a quota, but to actively and stupidly defend discrimination or exhibit an extraordinary degree of ignorance about human beings, human sexuality and social relationships –well, that is not the type of person or type of company that I want to support in any way. We have to thank the idiots who so casually and stupidly reveal such often latent or hidden biases so we know.

  • fagburn

    Power laughs while it kicks your ass,
    while they distracted you into thinking some stupid pasta boycott
    about having a token f*g in some stupid TV ad
    really meant something meaningful,
    when it meant nothing but your acceptance
    of their attempts to depoliticise your culture…

    Shut up and eat up the nicer pasta, boys!

  • Cam


    Your desperation is laughable. You normally are on posts screaming that boycotts don’t work. Now that this article shows that the threat of a boycott was directly behind the company moderating you are trying anything you can to deflect attention from that.

    your tactics would be funny if it wasn’t just so……sad.

  • 2eo

    @Cam: He was attacking Peter Tatchell again, it’s hilarious, he also again compared boycott to the holocaust, with us as the Nazi’s.

    He’s a c*nt of the highest order, and if the information a friend at Brighton uni is collecting then he could be in for more than a slapped wrist from the police.

  • Polaro

    @Cam: Boycotts can work, but not all do. Just be sure to boycott the right things. Boycotting Barilla is great. They deserve it. And there are no unintended, negative consequences to this boycott.

  • fagburn

    This is a test to see if I’m barred…

  • fagburn

    Dear Cam/2eo,

    First, can we stop pretending you’re two different people – thanks.
    Please don’t assume everyone’s as daft as you.

    I’ve never said boycotts don’t work.
    I have said most LGBT Russian campaigners have said boycotting, say, S-chi or certain vodka brands, are pointless, and can be counterproductive.
    Apologies for listening to the people these things actually impact on.

    I think I’ve always said I think it’s a sad sign of the depoliticisation of gay culture that there has been such outrage over Barilla pasta – if we think this is that important, then we’re in real trouble.
    Or if we think consumerism can somehow liberate us and deliver us from evil.
    But if it makes someone like you feel good… good for you!

    No. I did not compare the boycott to the h-locaust – exactly the opposite – I was commenting on a hysterical meme that featured Barilla and H-tler and some pasta sw-stikas – quite ludicrous.

    Anyone can check what I’ve said on here or on my blog, so there’s no point in making things up that I have not written – which you have done endlessly; and libellously.

    I’m sure “your friend at Brighton Uni” is as real as both of the one of you are.

    Not sure what I’ve done online to deserve a visit from Sussex Police – care to enlighten me?

    They know me already – arrested me earlier this year protesting against a f-scist/r-cist EDL march in Brighton.

    Not as good as not not not buying a certain brand of pasta, but what can you do?



    PS Had to delete letters from certain words as it stopped me posting before…

  • Cam


    No, your comment is idiotic.

    So lets see, gays shouldn’t be upset that the CEO of a major international company publicly attacks gays and says that they are basically second class citizens.

    No, what is sad is your constant attacking of the gay community and your constant defense of whomever is anti-gay.

  • fagburn

    @Cam: Think I’ll bow out of this now – I really can’t hope to compete with a towering intellect such as yours.



  • EdgarCarpenter

    @Sparkyu1: Hey, you stoli that idea from Queerty!

  • Derek Williams

    Gay marriage and gay adoption are still highly controversial, especially in Italy. It may be that the reaction against Barilla’s comments hasn’t come from his consumer base, and that featuring gay couples with children will actually alienate his consumer base. Time will tell whether his anti-gay comments won him support from his traditional customers, and whether kowtowing to the LGBT lobby will obliterate that support, and win enough new gay customers to compensate.

    While I was appalled by Barilla’s comments, I also don’t expect him to be a rainbow flag waving LGBT activist and go out of business in the process. I accept his apology, forced or otherwise, and I actually hope that he will profit from doing so. Reward for the right actions is so much more powerful than punishment for the wrong ones.

  • EdgarCarpenter

    And to those who keep saying boycotts don’t work – the fact is that lots of LGBT people are now buying other brands of pasta because they don’t want to help fund their own denigration, not because they think it will hurt Guido Barilla.

    Why would a gay person want to link themselves to a family or a company which has contempt for gay people? I don’t support people who try to harm me, whether they notice my lack of support or not. I don’t buy Exxon or Mobile gasoline, either, and I’m sure that Exxon-Mobile has not noticed that loss of income.

  • redspyder

    @Derek Williams: I can understand your point: Reward for the right actions is more powerful then punishment for the wrong ones. The problem I have with your point is that he hasn’t taken the right actions. You think by simply using the words “I apologise” that an apology has been offered.
    It hasn’t.
    While you may work with teenagers (as indicated in the last Barilla post), you have no idea how different things work in the business world. When Guido Barilla says “I apologize if my words generated misunderstandings or controversy or if they hurt some people’s feelings”, that’s not an apology. Its blaming someone else for their misunderstanding. In the business world, thats an equivalent of an “F-U”. Genuine apologies accept personal blame. This one doesn’t. Guido Barilla is not a 15 year old – he’s 55 years old. Old enough to realise there are real consequences for his words and actions.
    I’m also not understanding why you continue to go on about “kowtowing to the gay lobby”. He suggested that anyone who doesn’t like his view should buy another product. I’m taking his advice. I’m not punishing him by doing so – its an acknowledgement of his excellent business sense.

  • Derek Williams

    @redspyder: Barilla is in a precarious position. If he features gay families adopting children in his ads, he risks losing his conservative Italian consumer base. I didn’t like his comments, but I don’t think his apology was given necessarily merely to save his business, as it may well be that he would have been better off sticking to his guns so as to keep his present customers who might even agree with his earlier views.

    The journey to redemption starts with one step. He has taken not only that first step with a recorded apology, even if it wasn’t grovelling enough for you, but moreover has met with LGBT representatives, potentially further alienating his traditional, conservative Italian consumer base in the process.

    Casting your contempt for this man in stone risks making him not be bothered at all about LGBT in the future.

  • redspyder

    @Derek Williams: I don’t expect grovelling. I expect an apology. “I made a mistake”. Not “You made a mistake when you misinterpreted what I said”. You are so used to working with children – preparing them to be adults – that you don’t comprehend that he is an adult. He doesn’t get the same slack that a 15 year old gets.
    You also seem to be obsessively focussed on his Italian consumer base. He doesn’t run an Italian company. He runs a global brand. If he didn’t know that before, then he has no business running the company. They offer over a 1000 products, exported to 100 countries, with 30 production facilities in 9 countries. They are the leaders in the pasta business worldwide, a leader in the pasta sauces business in Europe, and a leader in the crispboard business in Scandinavia. They have approximately 25% of the US market. Why a conservative Italian consumer base factors so highly into his – or your – reasoning is beyond me. If it wasn’t a family owned company, they’d be talking about firing him.
    I’m not sure why you think that people need to make allowances for him, nor embrace his half hearted attempts. And make no mistake – they are half hearted. This WILL be a Harvard Business Review article – he has made 5 attempts at apologising and has clearly screwed them up. All he has created is a massive brand issue for what was a leading company.
    Lastly I have no delusions that he is bothered about LGBTs, either now or in the future. He made his positions clear. When criticized, he made a non-apology. You seem to think that’s acceptable. I don’t.

  • Derek Williams

    @redspyder: If you’ve ever been in business, you should know that key to your success is to identify your target market and look after them. Ideally also, you should steer clear of controversy. Mr Barilla is a businessman, and he knows his market better than you or I, and I suspect he knows that a sizable portion of it will be Italian and conservative, and of his global brand, a sizable proportion of that will be too, some in countries which imprison gays. What may not be clear, is just how big that is in comparison to his LGBT customers. One thing for sure, he knows LGBT are a tiny minority compared with his heterosexual user base.

    While we do have heterosexual allies who are the source of our perceived power, it doesn’t follow they’ll all desert Barilla just because Barilla don’t run ads with gay families with adopted kids. Plenty of other companies don’t run such ads, and they’ve not been targeted.

    What has drawn Barilla into this controversy was that he spoke about LGBT in an unflattering way, thereby failing in his duty to keep Barilla out of the limelight of controversy. He is now damned if he does, and damned if he doesn’t. If he grovels, he still won’t appease people like you, who are loaded for bear against him, and if he sticks by his original position, he still won’t appease people like you who are loaded for bear against him.

    His best position therefore is to ignore people like you who will now never buy his products under any circumstances, and to look to others who might be influenced by a ‘middle ground’, less grovelling approach, but fulsome enough to appease the stone throwers, while not alienating his traditional consumer base, many of whom will be in countries where homosexuality is illegal.

    He is under no obligation to become an LGBT activist, yet he has at least had the decency to meet with LGBT groups. For now, that’s good enough for me. Clearly he will never have you as a customer, but I suspect that with his careful navigation between the gay and the anti gay demographics, he may have managed to save the company.

  • Ruhlmann

    @Elloreigh: I understand what he did and now so does he. I am not naive and suspect he is largely motivated by profit but to harangue him after he’s publicly apologised makes us small…and bitchy. When I see what American LGBT suffer socially and legislatively I can’t help but feel there are bigger fish to fry and you need to go after the ones who don’t apologise. This guy is now a potential high profile ally.

  • redspyder

    @Derek Williams: As someone who has professional consulted for boards and C-Level executives on marketing, strategy, compliance and risk management, and human resources/change management – in over 55 countries – I hope you’ll forgive me for ignoring your comparatively amateur analysis of their customer base and brand management.
    Guido Barilla Statement: “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.”
    Guido Barilla Apology: ““With reference to statements made yesterday, I apologize if my words have generated controversy or misunderstanding, or if they have hurt the sensibilities of some people. In the interview I simply wanted to highlight the central role of the woman in the family.”

    Saying ‘I’m sorry you were offended’ doesn’t cut it. Throwing in sexist comments on top doesn’t help either.
    Consumers deserve the respect of a real apology which says “I made a mistake with what I said” instead of “You all made a mistake by misunderstanding me”. Offering such an apology does not equal ‘grovelling’ – it means you acknowledge that you made a mistake. Why you think stating those two facts means I’m “loaded for bear” is beyond me. And if I choose to buy another pasta, I’m not sure why you are so put out. After all, “Everyone is free to do what they want, provided it doesn’t bother anyone else”.

  • Derek Williams

    @redspyder: This dispute is circuitous and dilatory. Several times I have acknowledged your right not to eat Barilla’s pasta and I hereby acknowledge your right never to forgive Barilla no matter how many times he apologises. There is no law requiring him to apologise any more than there is one requiring you to be a reasonable person and it’s just as well, because if there were, by now, you’d have broken it several times over.

    Several times you have set in concrete your contempt for Barilla and his attempts at conciliation, of which there have been five on the record, including meeting with LGBT representatives, none of which you acknowledge and instead insist on retracing old resentment over and over. I don’t care how many countries you’ve done business in, this is simply common sense. Your shrill petulance simply alienates straight supporters who are in scarce enough supply as it is.

    You do not acknowledge Barilla has made any concessions, whereas I do. It’s time to let this go. Don’t eat Barilla pasta if you don’t want to. I on the other hand will be buying his products. Go ahead and accuse me of treachery. I don’t even know you, and I don’t care to.

  • redspyder

    Given that all you seem to do is ‘Block Text, Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V’, rinse & repeat – mostly on the other Barilla thread, but certainly here as well – I would agree that there is no conversation with you.
    You insist he has apologised, even if it was just ‘I apologise that you are offended’. I disagree that it is even an apology. Apparently your high school teacher experience in PR, teaching meaningless platitudes outweighs my boardroom experience and crisis management experience. You, of course, are right. I just get paid for my opinion.
    You presume to tell me about Barilla’s customer base & brand management when you have no real professional knowledge or experience in assessing it. When I point out that I do have a basis to do so, you mock me.
    You insist over and over again that I must accept his apology and rush out to buy a gross of Barilla products in support of his ‘fully embracing’ the LGBT community. When I state I’m free to buy whatever products I want, its apparently ‘shrill petulance’ instead of free will.
    You should stay in the ‘high school’ world. Just let me know where – I wouldn’t want my kids going there.

  • redspyder

    For anyone else out there that thinks five apologies (and a meeting with LGBT representatives) means that Barilla is really, really, really, really, really sorry – it doesn’t.
    It means that the first four were part of a rolling PR disaster and that for the fifth they have their fingers crossed. Companies don’t regurgitate their mistakes over and over again because they feel bad. No matter what they taught you in high school.

  • Derek Williams

    @redspyder: When I see someone as unreasonable as you, it helps me to understand why there is so much homophobia in this world.

  • Cam

    @fagburn: said…. “@Cam: Think I’ll bow out of this now – I really can’t hope to compete with a towering intellect such as yours.



    Yes, that is usually best when somebody points out how your statements doesn’t hold up under any scrutiny.

  • fagburn

    @Cam: Erm, I’ve disproved all your silly accusations against me.
    But you’ve ignored all the questions I’ve asked you.

    Well done!

    PS This is like trying to reason with a chihuahua, I really do have better things to do…

  • redspyder

    @Derek Williams: You’re right – I am unreasonable. How dare I not spend my money in ways that you tell me I have to. Here I am acting like its my decision – the nerve! Outrageous!

    You were kowtowing after the first offensive apology that Barilla made. You were happy to ‘make it all go away’ back then. Barilla has made four more apologies since then – each one because the previous was perceived as disingenuous or offensive. You go on and on about how genuine he is… ‘he’s meeting with LGBT representatives’. Well, he certainly isn’t meeting with them because of people like you. Barilla is scrambling because he’s trying to offset the damage he’s done – if anything, he takes the LGBT community more seriously than he ever did before.
    Homophobia doesn’t exist because gay people stand up for themselves. If you choose to give your money to someone who insults you, that’s your business. Why you think you have the right to control who I give my money to is beyond me.

  • Derek Williams

    @redspyder: I think you just like picking a fight. I FULLY ACKNOWLEDGED several times it is your right not to eat Barilla pasta.

    Your choleric posts make it clear you aren’t even reading mine. You read a couple of words and then off you go again.


    I hope you noticed it this time in capital letters.

  • redspyder

    Apparently I’m having whine with my pasta.

  • MK Ultra

    He’s a gross looking old bigot who said he doesn’t, nor will ever consider gay people “families”.
    He can choke on his disgusting pasta for all I care, or better yet, shove it up his ass.
    He should write his little apologies down so they can be used for toilet paper.

  • Derek Williams

    @MK Ultra: People can’t help how they look and nor can you. If you only accept apologies from people whom you consider attractive, you must have a lot of enemies.

  • MK Ultra

    @Derek Williams: That’s my prerogative, bud.
    As for enemies. No I don’t.
    But I do have many attractive friends. Ahh, life is good.

Comments are closed.