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$100 for endless pasta: Olive Garden’s fat ass pass gimmick is a brand win

(Business News) As Olive Garden grabs headlines for their never ending pasta pass, we ponder how your brand could demand the same attention.

olive garden

olive garden

Olive Garden offers $100 for a pasta pass

In Olive Garden’s new headline-grabbing “Never Ending Pasta Pass,” for $100, diners can shovel as much pasta, bread, salad, and soda into their face holes as they can, endlessly. While not exactly “never ending,” the pass does entitle the diner to seven weeks of bottomless dining, and diners can even take home leftovers of what they’ve ordered.

At our offices, we’re lovingly referring to it as the “fat ass pass,” the truth is that this gimmick is nothing more than that, as only 1,000 of the pasta passes will be sold, according to USA Today, which reports sales will begin at 3:00pm ET today on the Olive Garden website.

Jay Spenchian, executive vice president of marketing says that they are “not policing the tables” for individuals bringing all of their friends to the table to feed them after they order water and a side salad, then munch down on the card holder’s spoils. Interesting.

So, if the fat ass pass is barely more than a gimmick, why bother? The truth is that the company is already hosting a “Never Ending Pasta Bowl” event this month, and this campaign is an extension of that promotion.

“What we’re trying to do is get some attention,” says Spenchian. “It’s sure to provoke a reaction.”

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True. And we’re guilty as are others of giving air time to the stunt, but hang with us, because this could inspire your own brand.

Should you implement a fat ass pass for your brand?

While this all sounds a bit ridiculous, perhaps there is a lesson to learn for your own brand. What can you do to grab attention? Is there something you can do on a limited basis that is ridiculous, and may cost you some dough, but generates free press beyond what you could ever get with standard business?

Consider your options and costs, create a full campaign, and send it out to all of your local press (tv, radio, print, and bloggers), and a handful of national media outlets, and see what you can generate. But we warn you: lame attempts will fail. Giving away a free BMW to one lucky winner has been done to death (although please send me one, I won’t turn it away), but getting creative and tapping into the gluttony of our culture could be a huge home run for your brand.

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Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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