Barilla Pasta: A Company In Hot Water

Case Solution

Jana Seijts, Paul Bigus
Ivey Publishing ()

On September 26, 2013, the CEO of the world’s leading pasta maker, Barilla Group, faced a dire situation. The day before, during an interview on an Italian radio show, the head of the company made a series of comments against homosexuals when asked why the company did not show advertisements for homosexual families. Social media erupted with negative comments and numerous images on the topic of equality depicting pasta creatively. Late-night American television shows ridiculed the company and various equality organizations around the world called for a boycott of its products. Competitors also issued statements and announcements extolling their respect for diversity. All customers, media, competitors, and organizations that support diversity were looking for an explanation. The company urgently needed to develop a strategy to respond publicly and avoid the long-term negative effects of a damaged brand, lower market share, and ultimately a loss of revenue.

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