Who does a boycott really hurt?

The latest social media shitstorm is about Guido Barilla saying, “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.”

This has resulted in the angry gay mob calling for a boycott of his company’s products.

Before you change your grocery shopping plans, just ask yourself: who does a boycott really hurt?

A loss of sales will affect a company’s revenues. A measurably large loss over a long enough timeframe might actually exert some kind of business pressure. But, realistically: what?

Do you suppose, as the chairman of a major multi-national conglomerate, if your revenues dropped in any significant way, you’d say to yourself, “Boy, I had best take a pay cut in order to make ends meet! Ouch!” Oh, hells no, of course not. What you’ll actually do is: “I’d better lay off enough of my workforce to compensate for the loss of revenues.”

The reality is, any boycott first hurts the employees the most. Sure, any employer who loves their employees is going to hurt indirectly when their employees suffer, but it’s also business; if the employer can’t stomach adjusting the shape of the business to adapt to market environments, they’re not going to be in business very long.

So, what should a concerned individual do, then?

If you truly want to make your voice heard, instead of a boycott, buy Barilla product, and hold a fundraising pasta dinner and donate the proceeds to an LGBT organization. Since we’ve already established that a boycott is mostly just a symbolic gesture, why not send one that says:

“We will use Barilla product to raise funds to support LGBT causes.”

If Guido is personally opposed to such causes, then knowing his company’s product is furthering those causes should create emotional distress that he cannot ignore or avoid. Perhaps this is a dirty and underhanded tactic, but it’s really the only one that has an actual effect.

Ultimately, who really cares?

Honestly, I don’t even understand the big deal, here. This is one man saying he wants to use the heteronormative family model to advertise his company’s product. It’s a choice he gets to make, and clearly the marketplace has rewarded him richly for such a decision–until now. Are gay people really that dumb that they never noticed the lack of same-sex families depicted in Barilla ads until now? What, you thought it was a coincidence?

Frankly, it would be nice to see the LGBT community practice what they preach, you know, tolerance and acceptance, for another person’s views and way of life. If you actually read what Guido is quoted saying, he expresses a very reasoned and tolerant opinion. Let me quote it for you, again, in case you weren’t paying close enough attention earlier:

“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.”

These are not the words of a hateful, bigoted, closed-minded homophobe. Even though he didn’t have to, he acknowledges his very liberal attitude towards people who are different to him: “do what [you] want without disturbing others.” If he said something like, “Gay people shouldn’t eat my pasta,” (like A&F CEO Mike Jeffries did, saying, “A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong.”), it would be an offensive comment. But, to tell Guido that the way he’s choosing to live his life is wrong and offensive? Pot, meet kettle.

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