“Executives at Olive Garden declined to discuss the uninvited spokesmodel. One official says the company has tried to walk a fine line with its response, maintaining the chain’s wholesome image without alienating potential customers. “I don’t feel comfortable talking about this…because it is a complicated issue for the brand,” says Michele Kay, executive vice president of WPP Group’s Grey advertising firm, which handles the Olive Garden account.”
‘Walk a fine line’? This isn’t nuclear disarmament talks with Iran, it’s pasta, salad and all-you-can-eat breadsticks.
Here’s some good advice from Dave Balter, who was also quoted in the article:
“The question is: ‘Do you have to love someone who loves you?'” says Dave Balter, founder and chief executive of BzzAgent, a Boston-based word-of-mouth media company. The answer is a squishy yes and no. “The worst thing to do is turn off someone who is that passionate about you,” says Mr. Balter. “A brand doesn’t have to actively embrace someone like Kendra, but they should certainly be willing to accept the fact that she’s willing to tell the world how much she loves them.”
Exactly. Don’t make a big deal out of it, but if asked, just say something like: “We’re happy to hear that we’ve exceeded Ms. Wilkinson’s expectations, that’s our goal with every one of our patrons.”
By hemming and hawing you create a situation where The Wall Street Journal is writing about it. How many man hours did Olive Garden executives spend deciding how they were going to deal with this ‘situation’? When I think of Olive Garden I think of a casual, fun place to grab a little food. This makes them sound like a stuffy corporation.