I Love the Olive Garden Marketing Idea of the Pasta Pass

At first when I saw this promotion I was sorely tempted but like most good deals like this, such as Black Friday deals. I was too lazy or lackadaisical to even try to get one. Good thing too because the smart guys at Olive Garden (OG) found a great idea for marketing with the $100.00 pasta pass that gives users unlimited pasta and soft drinks for seven weeks. So here is the reason I love the Olive Garden marketing idea of the pasta pass!


1. The offer is simple, they created a demand, offered a limited supply and it paid off. I saw that the passes sold out in a little over an hour, and poof I am left with having to spend my hard earned money like all they others who didn’t get the pass. I mean come on we all love the Never Ending Pasta Bowl celebration only, but this was a great way to get some great publicity for the promotion.

2. This offer made OG a ton of money. Think of all the promotion they are getting. It far outweighs the cost of the cards, even if every user used it everyday. I mean come on, they are smart enough to know that only a small percentage of the people will use these cards past their face value. Add in all the free publicity and it equates to a huge marketing win for the Olive Garden.

3. Even bad publicity is publicity. So like any contest there are rules and these cards are supposed to be non-transferable. But guess what like any good deal these “golden tickets” ended up on eBay and other auction sites sometimes selling for $200 or more. But what were these buyers to do if the pass is not transferable? Well after some backlash, Olive Garden gets to swoop in again claiming a hospitality clause saying they will honor the passes. Boom! they get to look like the good guy again and get even more free publicity.

ebay OG pasta pass article image for Online Business Reef


So in the end if you are thinking of some ways to market your retail, restaurant, or local business take a page out of the marketing book of Olive Garden. Think of something you can offer that has great value, promote the heck out of it, and then if you experience some issues or problems that lead to more publicity (even if it is bad) offer a great solution to make you come out smelling like a rose. Ah the sweet smell of success in this case is spaghetti and meatballs, ALL YOU CAN EAT!

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