Dear Barilla: Alienating Gays Is A Terrible Marketing Move

Barilla_gnocchi_01The internet is all abuzz with word that the CEO of Italian pasta maker Barilla isn’t planning on featuring any gay people in their ads:

“We have a slightly different culture,” Barilla said, per a Huffington Post translation of the interview. “For us, the ‘sacral family’ remains one of the company’s core values. Our family is a traditional family. 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. You can’t always please everyone not to displease anyone. I would not do a commercial with a homosexual family, not for lack of respect toward homosexuals – who have the right to do whatever they want without disturbing others – but because I don’t agree with them, and I think we want to talk to traditional families. The women are crucial in this.”

Um, ok. Yeah. Send the gays off to buy other pasta. Sure. That’s not the worst marketing idea I’ve ever heard or anything.

Does Barilla have any idea the buying power of the gay market? Gay people eat every day! Many of them more than once! They cook meals with food that they buy at the grocery store. Companies like Crate and Barrel and Subaru cater to gays, so strong is their market share!

If the people are Barilla were thinking clearly, they would realize just how stupid flippantly dismissing gay buying power is. For their edification, I’ve prepared a list of groups of gays that would be delighted to buy their pasta if only they would stop being giant jerks about it:

Urban Gays With Money: Rich gay people in big cities can be trendy and competitive. They also throw spectacular dinner parties. Trust me, you WANT to be on a gay foodie’s shopping list.

Trendy Vegan/Vegetarians: A subset of rich urban folks, gays who avoid meat do not avoid linguini.

Bears: Bears like to gather with other Bears and eat. They may be the least likely of all gay subgroups to go gluten free. Feed the Bears.

Gym Bunnies: Those super fit gay people who run marathons and do Cross-Fit tournaments? Yeah, they carbo-load the night before an event. You want in on that action.

Suburban Parents: Gay couples with two jobs and kids will toss together a fast spaghetti dinner at least once a week and might even do home made mac and cheese if they’re feeling ambitious. Pasta is food kids will eat, yo.

Fag Hags (also known as Fruit Flies or LGBT Allies): Women capable of the kind of PMS that only a bowl of carbs will cure are fiercely loyal to their gay friends and will be giving a big HELL NO to any brand that insults their besties. Grace won’t buy a product that doesn’t want Will. Capisce?

My Friend Casey: While he claims to be too pretty to cook, he is capable of boiling water for pasta.

The Barilla people will probably feel the sting of all the gays and friends-of-gays who are going to forgo their blue boxes after finding out that the CEO doesn’t care about their whole market (there was a rather quick apology, of sorts, but it really sounded more like the company was sorry for stepping in it with a huge market). The loss will be to their bottom line. And maybe to the bottoms of a few of us gay-allied types who were looking to cut carbs anyway.

Rebekah Kuschmider is a Washington, D.C. area mom with an over-developed sense of irreverence, socialist tendencies, a cable news addiction, and a blog. Rebekah has an undergraduate degree in theater and Master’s in Arts Policy and Administration and a decade of experience managing arts organizations and advocating in the public health sector.  Rebekah also blogs about her life, her thoughts, and her opinions at was voted one of the Top 25 Political Mom Blogs at Circle of Moms. Her work has also been seen at, Redbook online, and the Huffington Post.

Image via Wikimedia Commons/CC License

  • Marti Teitelbaum

    friends-of-gays here (and mother of also). Loved it — made your points clearly but also lots of fun. Yes, the guy was really really stupid to antagonize the gay community.

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