Global Italian market chain Eataly has come under fire due to a lewd marketing campaign and its decision to ignore customer complaints. The bad ideas turned into a full-blown scandal when someone from the company included a customer on an internal email thread discussing the topic, reports the Chicago Tribune.
The campaign in question features in-store signage advertising Eataly products with sexually charged tag lines such as “Bring home an Italian. Great legs, better body.” That ad is being used to sell wine. There’s also “Bring home an Italian. Worth the smell.” That one, which has the extra layer of racism by playing on the (very) old stereotype that Italians smell bad, is meant to sell truffles.
All of these not-so-subtle sex references are being deployed less than a month after celebrity chef Mario Batali, one of the company’s co-owners, admitted to engaging in sexual misconduct in the workplace for more than two decades. A customer noted this fact in a complaint emailed to Eataly, but after consulting with a crisis management firm, the company decided no action was necessary. “We’ve discussed with our PR crisis agency and we shouldn’t take any action,” reads a portion of the internal email discussion that was sent to the customer, per the Tribune. “Please keep the signs up and do NOT answer to the customer email.”
How could a company come up with such a bad idea of an ad campaign and then blunder the response to complaints even worse? This saga is in the news a couple of weeks after Batali made his own headlines for his own perceived stupidity. In an apology email sent to his newsletter subscribers, the disgraced chef included a recipe for pizza dough cinnamon rolls. Since then, there has been much talk about what an idiot Batali is, as opposed to what an awful monster he is. And now, there will be talk about how stupid the folks at a Batali-associated business, Eataly, are.
• Leaked Emails Show Eataly Deliberately Ignored Customer Complaint That Ad Was Offensive [Tribune]
• Mario Batali Tells Fans He’s ‘So Very Sorry’ for Sexual Misconduct. P.S.: Cinnamon Rolls! [Washington Post]
• Mario Batali Steps Away From Restaurant Empire Following Sexual Misconduct Allegations [ENY]