How a supermarket’s commercial has shaken Italy

A supermarket’s advertisement has stirred up thousands of disputes, thanks to the unique point of view of a child with separated parents.
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/sarabonaparte/" target="_self">Sara Bonaparte</a>

Sara Bonaparte

October 3, 2023

The socio-political power that advertisements hold is immense. The new TV commercial from Esselunga, a chain of supermarkets in northern and central Italy, which sparked outrage this past week is, without a doubt, confirmation

At the center of the ad, titled “The Peach,” is an often forgotten topic: the separation of parents, which frequently has a drastic impact on children. In the Esselunga advertisement, a child, Emma, gets lost in the supermarket and asks her mom to buy her a peach.

Later she hands it out to her father, stating in Italian “Mom is sending it”.

From prominent politicians and journalists to thousands of social media memes, Esselunga’s ad has prompted opinions and criticism online. Opponents of the advertisement claim that it stigmatizes separation, while others say that this advertisement places the blame on the parents who decided to separate. 

Others, like Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, offer praise. She posted in Italian on X, formerly known as Twitter, “I read that this commercial has generated several controversies and disputes. I find it very nice and touching.

“Esselunga is not just any company, also because it financed la Lega,” said Selvaggia Lucarelli, a noted Italian journalist and blogger, on the Italian TV program “PiazzaPulita.” Lega per Salvini Premier is a prominent right-wing Italian political party led by Matteo Salvini.

“It is a company that is friendly to that political part of the country, we can say this confidently,” Lucarelli continues. “And the advert plays into the hands of the center-right at the moment because in some way it is an endorsement of the traditional family.

Lucarelli also stated that if she were an advertiser, she would have proposed an anti-commercial that tells the backstory of “Who picked that peach? Probably a migrant”.

Certainly, the commercial’s marketing team — named Small, a New York City-based creative agency — hit the jackpot.

“We started from the concept that our client asked us, ‘There is no expense that is not important.’ We thought of putting consumers, who they are, their lives, and to do it with a narrative different from that typical of Italian advertising” Luca Lorenzini, co-founder of the agency, said to La Repubblica.

Leaving behind false representations, similar to the Mulino Bianco’s commercials, of an unrealistic and idyllic family is necessary for the growth of our society disguised by memory. Esselunga’s commercial is a clear example of a new, fresh representation that doesn’t only reflect our times, but also intimidates the public, because there is something intrinsically true in it that people recognize in their society, and in some cases, in their families.