Brilliant Move by Bertolli.
When the CEO of Barilla (pasta) made some unfortunate comments on Italian radio recently regarding his views on the type of family his company would feature in Barilla’s advertising, I doubt he realized he created an opening for a competitor to make a brilliant marketing move. Guido Barilla’s exact comments were:
“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.”
As my mother summarized this story, he managed to offend two birds with one stone: women and same-sex couples. But, beyond that, let’s get to the brilliance that this comment by Mr. Barilla created. Not surprisingly, backlash against Barilla began with calls of boycotts and the like, but the best and swiftest move came from a competitor: Bertolli.
Bertolli sees an opening and fires an arrow into the bullseye
Almost immediately, someone in the Bertolli marketing department acted swiftly and quite elegantly, using social media to convey the following message:
Pasta and love for all.
With a simple yet touching message, Bertolli managed to not get swept up in a similar named Brand’s tsunami, and set themselves apart as a corporation who is listening; in touch with their customers, their families and the world as an entire community, not to mention showing themselves as technologically savvy through the quick spread of a message on facebook. Their playful ad is shown below, along with some other competitors’ with the “couples” of pasta all enjoying a dip in the sauce (cute touch with the dog as well).
And as a truly beautiful trend, it is quite touching to see other related brands rallying the cause of love and not of hate. Seeing the Bertolli, Garofalo, and Bertolli ads is quite touching, with Garofalo’s truly setting the new standard that i think most people aspire to get to with this tread-weary topic: whatever, just eat pasta. Their ad “italian here”, translates to “We don’t care who you do it with, just do it al dente” is maybe the best tag line ever and brings about the key messaging back to the product with a wink and a smile. what a lovely way to defuse this hot topic and move on together to the lovely things in life ranter than the mud slinging we often get caught up in.
Cheers to the marketing managers at these pasta companies and let’s hope the suits recognize each one of them with a fat bonus this year for taking an ugly situation and creating beauty, sharing love, and most importantly, encouraging us not to overcook our pasta.