Trend Observation: Pasta Wars

Two pasta companies are addressing the issue of marriage equality and consumers are taking sides.

After Barilla chairman Guido Barilla told an Italian radio station that his company would never run an ad featuring a same-sex couple, Bertolli Germany quickly responded with an ad that translates to “pasta and love for all”, including pairs of the same types of pasta walking side-by-side down a spoon. The new ad, which was posted on Facebook, already has over 3,000 likes.

The Barilla chairman’s statement also caused an uproar among LGBT groups, with many calling for a boycott of the brand.

“If he doesn’t want any same-sex couples in his ads, I don’t want his pasta on my table.”

Michael Cashman, co-president of LGBT Intergroup, a European Parliament body that works to expand LGBT rights, in a tweet

 

Issues on the table

Around the world, we are seeing how boycotts and consumer protests are receiving more attention thanks to social media and digital connectivity. Supporters of a particular cause can show that support online and consumers can make use of a growing number of apps that make it easy to determine what companies stand for.

And the issue of marriage equality has become one that many companies and consumers have become outspoken about: Retailers have responded to boycotts by introducing inclusive marketing materials in support of marriage equality, brands are releasing statements of support, and companies are dissolving partnerships with other organisations that don’t support marriage equality.

Companies across industries will do well to approach these issues with discretion and sensitivity, if they choose to address these topics at all. Because more consumers are expecting corporations to treat people equally, those companies that fail to do so may suffer the consequences.

Indeed, Mintel’s Marketing to Millennials US August 2012 report noted that 56% of 18-35-year-olds (including 60% of women in this age group) consider equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and transgender people an important issue. Businesses will do well to keep these expectations in mind when creating marketing campaigns as well as when executives make public statements, online or off.
This is an observation from our Inspire trend Buydeology which looks at how affiliating themselves with companies that share their cultural and political values. To learn more click here.

 

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