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Published: Nov 04, 2013 12:43 PM EST
Updated: Nov 04, 2013 12:44 PM EST

ROME (AP) - Italy-based pasta maker Barilla is pledging to improve diversity after protests were sparked by an executive's claim the company would never feature ads depicting gay families.
    
Barilla says it has newly established a board to develop diversity goals and strategies. It said in a statement Monday that former F-1 driver Alex Zanardi, who lost his legs in a car crash, and David Mixner, a gay rights activist, agreed to serve on the board.
    
In September, gays and others raised calls to boycott Barilla products, which include cookies and bread. Many of the company's ads depict heterosexual couples with children gathered for meals. The calls were particularly strong in the U.S., where sales account for 10 percent of Barilla's revenues.  Barilla says new ad campaigns are planned.

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