Barilla drops Grey Int'l from $90 mil global pasta account

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Pasta marketer Barilla, Parma, Italy, pulled its $90 million global account from Grey International over a political flap between its homeland and Turkey. Grey International President John Shannon said Barilla stated it fired his agency because Grey's Turkish affiliate, Cenajans/Grey, Istanbul, advised another client on a political ad that Barilla claimed made an attack on Italian pasta. But Mr. Shannon asserted: "We are the unwitting victims in a much larger political struggle taking place."

The offending ad was produced by Turkish mobile phone network Telsim as part of a joint campaign by Turkish businesses supporting the government's efforts to get the Italian government to deport a Turkish terrorist. The commercial showed a single drop of blood dripping down toward a plate of pasta, with the slogan, "Keep your pasta clean!" A Telsim executive and former Grey staffer produced the commercial and asked Cenajans/Grey's creative director for advice. The only advice given was "not to overdo the horror," Mr. Shannon said. Grey's media agency tried to place the ad on Italian TV, but TV stations refused.

Grey has handled North America, Latin America and Asia-Pacific advertising for Barilla out of its New York office; it coordinated Europe through its Dusseldorf office. Young & Rubicam, Milan, holds the Barilla business in Italy, the company's biggest market.

Copyright December 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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