Marketing Bootcamp

Olive Garden to Unveil a Really Crazy 'Never-Ending' Deal

American appetites for casual chain dining are seemingly endless -- a fact illuminated by Olive Garden’s latest promotion, which will offer 1,000 lucky customers unlimited portions of pasta this fall.

Today, the Darden-owned chain is offering for sale “Never Ending Pasta Passes” to the first 1,000 visitors to its website. The $100 gift cards will bestow each holder with seven weeks’ worth of endless pasta, salad, bread and Coca-Cola branded drinks. The sale kicks off at 3 p.m. ET.

The publicity stunt dovetails with the chain’s nationwide “Never Ending Pasta Bowl” offer -- an annual promotion during which all guests can feast on unlimited pasta for $9.99. “What we’re trying to do is get some attention,” Olive Garden’s EVP of marketing, Jay Spenchian, told USA Today. “We're trying to make our fans feel like VIPs.”

Related: Olive Garden Undergoes 'Brand Renaissance' as Investors' Criticism Intensifies

Last year, he added, the 800-store chain -- which has been under severe investor pressure following tepid sales -- served up 13 million bowls of never ending pasta.

And though it may point to a nutritional liability, a whole host of casual chains are satiating endless appetites at the moment in order to attract voracious diners and create social buzz.

TGI Friday’s is currently offering “Endless Appetizers” for $10, while Olive Garden’s former sister company, Red Lobster, has once again rolled out its “Endless Shrimp” promotion. Outback Steakhouse is also offering a $15.99 dish featuring steak and unlimited shrimp.

Related: Desperate Measures: Olive Garden Revamps Menu as Investors Get Pushy

Edition: November 2016

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