Roger-Luc Chayer

According to Wikipedia, the term « Pinkwashing » is used to criticize a communication technique based on a benevolent attitude towards LGBTQ + people by a company or a political entity, which tries to change its image and reputation in a way progressive, tolerant and open. This strategy of « public relations » is part of the arsenal of methods of influence, management of perceptions and marketing ideas or brands.

So this is a new technique that is increasingly used by large companies, either to manipulate public opinion, in our case it is LGBT communities, or to give a good image, artificially , without this image being based on objective facts. This is the case of the international company I want to talk about here, Barilla.

Who does not remember the words of Guido Barilla, the boss of the brand of the same name, who said in 2013 « We will not advertise with homosexuals because we love the traditional family ». It was enough for a boycott campaign to be launched at the international level. Of course, Barilla being a huge multinational corporation, insulting some of the population could be very expensive, and that’s what happened. Throughout America and Europe, the boycott has been intense. I even remember that in certain Montreal grocery stores Barilla’s pasta and sauces inventories were sold at very low prices. Obviously, no way for me to consume this brand, which was my favorite when I was studying in France in the ’80s. Its Bolognese sauce was absolutely exquisite and not expensive too!

On September 26, 2016, Guido Barilla apologized on his Twitter account: « I am really sorry to have struck the sensitivity of so many people. I have the deepest respect for all people without distinction, « but according to Huffington Post, » the harm is done … On Twitter, the hashtags #homophobia, #boycottbarilla or #BarillaGayte were quickly picked up by Internet users from Italy and elsewhere. Barilla was one of the 10 most discussed topics on Twitter. Sincere apology or pinkwashing demonstration?

In order to verify the « good intentions » and especially the sincerity of Barilla, I personally piloted a file since December 2017 where I contacted Barilla Canada with whom, via a marketing manager, I opened all the doors of the magazine to offer the company the opportunity to demonstrate that publishing in a gay media, for the first time, was something that could be envisaged, but above all necessary to make the apology of the international president a reality. But now, after almost two years, and after receiving continual excuses not to associate Barilla’s name with the gay community, and even receiving lies from the Canadian Barilla office in Ontario, by e-mail, I felt the duty to report on these pages.

Obviously, one could easily conclude here that the company has made an eloquent example of pinkwashing, until proven otherwise, and this is exactly what LGBTQ communities denounce and wish to avoid, through education with these corporate entities. So we are in 2019 and we must make the sad conclusion that Barilla is not yet ready to put his logo alongside our colors, hope for a better future for this company.