"I would never do (a commercial) with a homosexual family, not for lack of respect but because we don't agree with them. Ours is a classic family where the woman plays a fundamental role," Chairman Guido Barilla, 55, said in an interview with Radio 24 on Wednesday.
For many years, the company's television ads have used the image of a happy family living in an idealized version of the Italian countryside, with the slogan: "Where there's Barilla, there's home," Reuters reported.
NBC News reported that Barilla issued an apology statement on Thursday, explaining that he was trying to say "simply that the woman plays a central role in a family." Nevertheless, the Barilla US Facebook page was filled with comments Thursday from customers who said they would no longer buy the company's products.
According to DesMoinesRegister.com, Blake Miller, head of Iowa State University's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Ally Alliance, said a boycott of Barilla is "certainly a conversation that we might have." Barilla has sponsored ISU athletics, but Miller said that no specific actions regarding Barilla's affiliation with the Cyclones are planned right now.
In the original radio interview, Barilla said he supports gay marriage, which is not legal in Italy, but opposes adoption of children by gay and lesbian parents, said Reuters.