What kind of sick pseudo-Italian restaurant would turn away a fun-loving Playboy bunny’s honest endorsement? None other than the dastardly fiends at the Olive Garden.
Kendra Wilkinson, a Playboy bunny, star of The Girls Next Door, and one of Hugh Hefner’s 3 live-in girlfriends, is getting the shaft. Big time. I’m so mad, you’re just going to have to finish this pun yourself.
The Wall Street Journal even gave her one of those front page caricature drawings too. And she’s smiling in it, Vikram Pandit is gonna be pissed when he finds out about this. But, you gotta give it to him, new WSJ owner Rupert Murdoch sure knows how to sell papers.
Here’s the WSJ low-down on this epic unwarranted snubbing:
To the consternation of Olive Garden’s marketers, who have spent millions crafting the franchise’s family-friendly image, the 23-year-old adult-entertainment star and aspiring real-estate mogul repeatedly uses her spotlight to rave about its midprice eateries. Ms. Wilkinson hoists Olive Garden doggie bags in the air and extols its chicken parmigiana. She once scandalized European diners by declaring the Olive Garden preferable to any restaurants in Italy.
How can they not see the marketing potential here? Instead they’ve got those lame TV ads that make me want to barf over their cutesy ‘Dad is eating all the food‘ jokes. Even the hilarious Rob Huebel, from Human Giant, couldn’t save these disasters.
When I was trying to find these Olive Garden commercials on YouTube, the first videos that popped up were ones like this featuring Kendra on Playboy TV talking about the place. Seriously, she “eats so many breadsticks, it’s not even funny!”:
She’s even sponsoring – and taking all the photographs for – a Playboy.com contest for the Hottest Girls of Olive Garden. Olive Garden commented that while it’s not embracing the contest, it treats its employees as private citizens who can participate as they choose. So maybe they are lightening up a bit?
Let us know your opinion in the comments section, could a Playboy model’s unintended endorsement really hurt a brand like the Olive Garden? Or could it liven it up to the point where more than just old ladies and lame Dads wanna eat there?
UPDATE: CNN is even making some slick looking T-shirts to get the word out about Kendra’s ‘unrequited love’ for Olive Garden.
WSJ: When You’re Here, You’re Family – But What About A Playboy Model?, August 13, 2008