By Thom Senzee
Originally published on Advocate.com June 11 2014 4:55 PM ET
Italian frozen foods company Findus has produced a landmark television commercial for Italian audiences, featuring a young gay couple serving one of the pair's mother a dinner comprised of the company's microwavable pasta and rice dishes, according to Time Magazine. The truly groundbreaking moment comes when the couple comes out to one man's mother, thinking she believes they are simply roommates.
The Findus commercial stands in stark contrast to competitor, Barilla, the popular Italian pasta company whose products are also sold in the U.S. and whose CEO declared less than a year ago that no LGBT people would ever be featured in its marketing campaigns. If LGBT folks didn't like his position, the company's CEO said people were free to "eat someone else's pasta." Since then however, CEO Guido Barilla has apologized, and the company has promised to be "more inclusive" in future marketing. But Barilla has yet to feature a same-sex couple, or any LGBT themes in its marketing to date.
The new Findus commercial, however, celebrates same-sex domesticity in a remarkably simple, relatable scene. Never showing faces, the ad features three pairs of hands — those of the mother, her son Luca's hands, and those of Luca's boyfriend, Gianni.
"A Microwave with Delicious Surprises" is the theme of the 30-second spot, in which Luca impresses his mother with a microwavable Findus pasta dish, then microwavable risotto, and finally with one last surprise — that turns out not to be so surprising after all.
"So Luca, what's the surprise?" asks Mom.
"There are so many," he replies with a nervous laugh as he sets down the first course before her.
"Pasta in the microwave?" asks Mom. "Now that is definitely a surprise."
"Luca told me it's your favorite dish," Gianni chimes in.
Then, after a couple of lines of praise for the product, son Luca says, "Mom, I have another surprise…"
That's when he drops the "out-bomb" and let's his mom know that Gianni is not just his roommate, but also his boyfriend. But Mom replies in a calm, knowing, and clearly accepting tone,:"I already knew." She then gently pats her son on the hand.
Time reports that LGBT groups in Europe are thrilled with the ad, not only because it offers a strong counter-initiative to the regressive statements from Barilla, but because Italy has been known as slower than other leading EU nations in terms of evolving toward greater equality for LGBT people.
"It’s a positive step forward when different types of families are portrayed in ads, as they resonate with parts of society that are usually marginalized,” Time quotes ILGA-Europe's Juris Lavrikovs as saying.