Friday, September 27, 2013

Pasta wars

There was a little gem in the papers today that you may or may not have seen - the chairman of Barilla has announced that his company will never feature same sex families in their advertisements, because he sees his company's audience as "a classic family". When questioned on potential backlash, his response was that "If gay people disagree, they can always eat pasta of other producers." (Quotes from the article linked above) Obviously, there's been backlash and calls for boycotts all over the place, and the US branch of the company has been forced to distance itself from its Italian parent.

Now, the problem I have with this - beyond the bleeding obvious - is the idea of the "classic family". Many of Barilla's adverts, even in Australia, feature a woman serving pasta to her husband and children, all of whom are usually white. Which is all well and good, but in saying that their audience is "a classic family" and in advertising their products in that way, the company are automatically discounting not only same sex couples, but all of the following:
  • Childless couples.
  • PoC families.
  • Mixed race families.
  • Widows/widowers and their children.
  • A married couple, their teenaged children from previous marriages, and their young child.
  • Grandparents and the grandchildren they take care of while their parent/s are working late.
  • Divorcees and their families.
  • Families with adopted children, especially those who have adopted children from overseas or from outside their ethnic background.
  • Families with foster children.
  • Extended families living under one roof. 
  • De facto couples and their kids.
  • People with guardianship of their younger siblings or nieces/nephews or dead friend's children.
  • Single people.
  • My own family, because my mum works, and my dad's retired and does almost all the cooking.
  • A million other permutations that I can't think of right now. 
By saying that they only cater to the traditional family, Barilla are cutting off huge swathes of modern society in favour of a 1950s ideal that's increasingly rare. 

And don't even get me started on the "same sex couples with families are destroying society" bullshit. Please, explain to me, if you can, how this is destroying society.......
.......but it's perfectly acceptable for Britney Spears to be married for fifty five hours without being told that she's destroying society? I would take one same sex couple and the children they've fought tooth and nail to have over a million couples who drunkenly decided to get married in Vegas and then stayed together when they found themselves pregnant a month later. I don't know about you, but I would rather live in a world where every child is wanted and loved than a world where a chunk of the population is miserable because they can't have kids while another is miserable because they have more kids than they want. 

And let's just stop for a second to appreciate the ironic fact that Barilla make a millionty different types of pasta, but can't appreciate diversity. As Deidre's husband, Inspector Climate, said this afternoon "Do they only make spaghetti?? You know, straight pasta?!"

If I worked for one of Barilla's rival pasta manufacturers, I would be instantly springing into action with a brand new marketing campaign. A campaign that featured a street party. A party in which families of all ethnicities and genders and relationship statuses and age brackets and employment statuses and levels of blood relationship have come together to eat and talk and laugh over giant bowls of pasta. A campaign, in short, that shows Barilla everything they're missing out on.* 
Something like this, only less 1970s. Also, source.

Because at the end of the day? Family doesn't always mean what you're born into, family doesn't stop with blood. It's about the people you love and who love you back, no matter what. And a company that recognised that, rather than some antiquated ideal? That's a company I'd want to support. 

What do you think?

K xx

*Dear pasta companies who aren't Barilla: please feel free to use my genius idea for your marketing campaigns in exchange for a small pot of money. Kthxbai.


  1. Let me hug you!!!

    I wasn't even aware of this thing but good god Barilla. I still remember Steffi Graf doing ads for them in Germany but I haven't watched regular TV in over a year so I haven't even seen any of their ads lately. What I do remember is, like you said, a wife cooking for her family. Ugh, stereotype my ass! Good thing I don't buy their products, didn't before and sure as hell won't do it now. Also, your marketing idea is gold and Barilla's rivals should definitely get on it. Like yesterday on it!

    1. It makes me wonder how different the situation would be if Barilla weren't a family company...

  2. Goddammit - Barilla is my favourite brand of dried pasta!! Why, Barilla, WHY you do this to meeeeee??? Sigh. Looks like I'll have to start buying San Remo or something now...

    1. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. (We've always bought San Remo, so it's not really an issue for me)

  3. NPH is in my town this week and I have yet to meet him and convince him to adopt me into his perfect family. So.... yeah.

  4. Wow. What a stunningly short-sighted and narrow-minded view. I'm with you, I definitely won't be buying their pasta.

    Also, how stupid of Barilla to assume that only gay people would be offended by their stance and choose to buy other brands. I'm not gay, and I grew up in what he would view as a "classic" family, but neither myself or my family will accept or support that kind of bigotry.
    His "apology" explaining that he just meant that "the woman plays a central role in the family" is a bit of pathetic nonsense. If "the woman" plays such a central role, surely families with lesbian couples are the most classic of all!

    1. Exactly!! I suspect he didn't really do a lot of thinking at all before opening his mouth...

  5. I feel like you might also accept large pots of pasta as payment, no?

    1. I'd prefer the money, but pasta would be an acceptable substitute, yes.

  6. I wasn't even aware of anything like this happening, thanks! Although Barilla products are available in India, I do not recall seeing any of their ads on telly. Alas, I'll have to switch to some other brand but definitely worth it.


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