Italian Pasta Maker Will Start ‘More Inclusive’ Ad Campaign After Anti-Gay Remarks

The Barilla chairman said in September that he would never use a gay family in his ads

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Barilla, the Italian pasta maker, is planning a “more inclusive” TV ad campaign after its chairman found himself in hot water in September when he said he would never use a gay family in his ads.

The pasta company announced Monday on its website a broad initiative to “establish a more active, global leadership on diversity,” including hiring a “chief diversity officer.”

The initiative, and the ad campaign reported by Reuters, follows a series of meetings held between chairman Guido Barilla and gay rights activists in Italy and the United States, in response to Barilla’s comments during a September radio interview. At the time, the company faced a firestorm of criticism, including calls for a boycott.

“The meetings have helped open our eyes and ears to the evolution taking place in the world outside Parma,” a spokesman for the Parma, Italy-based company told Reuters.

He said the company, with its iconic ads portraying traditional Italian family life, will now begin an ad campaign that “will be much more open and much more inclusive.”