Eataly, a tourist favorite in downtown Chicago – refused to admit they had customer complaints over a holiday marketing campaign that strongly suggests Italians smell bad.

According to the Chicago Tribune, they were aware of the complaints but advised from a public relations crisis company to ignore it. Yikes! When does that ever work?

Allegedly, an internal email chain forwarded in error to an angry customer by Sara Massarotto, Eataly’s public relations and social media manager, displays how Eataly staff discussing how to handle the issue almost two weeks before it dropped a stink bomb, according to the Tribune.

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On Dec. 20, Brittany Pape, the Italian-descent lawyer, wrote to Eataly complaining that a wine ad showcased at the Chicago store urging customers to “BRING HOME AN ITALIAN. GREAT LEGS, BETTER BODY” was “tone deaf” in light of the sexual misconduct allegations against Mario Batali, Eataly partner, according to the news outlet.

Pape according to the news outlet, requested the offensive ad to be removed, describing it in her email complaint as something “said by Mario Batali at a work holiday party.”

To escalate the matter further, three Eataly staffers then discussed – as recorded via email – how to handle Pape’s complaint as well as if they should respond to it or not before Massarotto came to the conclusion, in an email mistakenly copied to Pape:

“We’ve discussed with our PR crisis agency and we shouldn’t take any action. Please keep the signs up and do NOT answer to the customer email.” the Tribune reported.

Yowza that’s awkward.

The Chicagoan lawyer says she never did get a response — despite replying to everyone on the chain to let them know she had been copied by mistake, according to the news outlet.

The news outlet also reported that Massarotto had declined to answer multiple questions about another ad which depicted a truffle and urged consumers to “BRING HOME AN ITALIAN, WORTH THE SMELL.”

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Oof….if that’s not Batali a Christmas holiday party talking – then I don’t know who is.

For obvious reasons, the ad offended some Italian-Americans who were not pleased it played on anti-immigrant stereotypes of the early 20th century, according to the news outlet. President of the Italian American Human Relations Foundation of Chicago, Louis Rago even spoke to the news outlet, saying that whoever approved the ads should be fired for “offensive” and “negative image of Italians.”

Offensive Eataly ad cues complaints, emails reveals they turned a blind eye to the racism Pinterest