Olive Garden uncomfortable with Kendra Wilkinson’s endorsement

You’d think of all the serious issues plaguing Olive Garden – long waits, the batteries in the pagers dying out, running out of bread sticks, etc – the last thing they’d have time to worry about is their wholesome family image being tarnished. But that’s exactly what’s stressing out the Garden’s bigwigs – though they’re doing everything they can to be gracious about it.

Playboy Playmate, Hugh Hefner’s girlfriend, and Girls Next Door star Kendra Wilkinson is a big fan of the OG. Which is what the cool people call it. So much so that she’s actually said Olive Garden is better than any restaurant in Italy. She’s constantly eating their food and blabbing about on in the show. But lest you think it’s some clever product placement, let us be clear that Olive Garden has nothing to do with it – and has been made mighty uncomfortable by the Playmate’s pasta fetish.

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. 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.

Wilkinson, whose tan skin and blonde-white hair project classic California, isn’t on the payroll. She is a rogue brand ambassador: a celebrity who is genuinely, publicly devoted to a product or service, even if he or she doesn’t quite embody the values that the brand’s managers may be trying to convey.

Executives at Olive Garden declined to discuss the uninvited spokesmodel. One official said 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,” said Michele Kay, executive vice president of WPP Group’s Grey advertising firm, which handles the Olive Garden account.

Wilkinson said that when she started praising the restaurant on television and on her very popular MySpace page, it never crossed her mind what the folks at Olive Garden might think. “I don’t speak about it to get paid for it,” she said. “I speak about it because I love it. I understand they’re a family restaurant, but I think it can’t hurt them to have a little spice.”

[From Rocky Mountain News]

Apparently Olive Garden doesn’t want to offend Kendra or any of her (presumably) millions of fans, nor do they want images of frolicking bunnies associated with their brand. As long as Kendra’s not walking into her local restaurant wearing the bunny costume it seems like everything should be fine. If not I’m sure TGI Friday’s would love to have Kendra promote their Jack Daniel’s Chicken & Shrimp or something.

Here’s Kendra talking about how much she loves Olive Garden. Header image of Kendra at the ESPYs on July 17th. Images thanks to PR Photos.

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38 Responses to “Olive Garden uncomfortable with Kendra Wilkinson’s endorsement”

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  1. K8 says:

    Of COURSE she’d love a place that’s FAKE.

  2. CandyKay says:

    Wow, that video is a minute-and-a-half of my life I’ll never get back.

    Watch it, you can’t help but think, “This is a woman who makes her living out of being photographed naked.” Based on her level of discourse, she doesn’t seem to have much else to offer.

    I know there are supposedly lots of brilliant women who are stripping to put themselves through med school, but she sure the hell isn’t one of them.

  3. Kris says:

    I’ve never been to Olive Garden, nor have I watched that show. So I guess it doesn’t affect me in the slightest.

  4. OXA says:

    OGl needs to get over itself, say thank u Kendra and give her free food for life. We all know that the OG is a chain, recipes r the same all over price is reasonable and Kendra plus many other single people love it.

  5. Orangejulius says:

    Ooh boy. One step up from Miss Teen (North or South?) Carolina such as. For the children.

  6. Bodhi says:

    It was South Carolina *shakes head* Another PR disaster for my state.

    I like Kendra, she is so ridiculous & it never fails to crack me up

  7. Granger says:

    Okay, I haven’t been to an Olive Garden in a few years, but has Kendra ever BEEN to Italy? If so, she must have spent all her food money at McDonald’s. Because there is no way OG is better than an authentic Italian restaurant!

  8. CinPin says:

    OrangeJulius–I almost spit out my drink!

    BTW– OG is ok food, but a good Italian restaurant beats them hands down. Kendra has white trash taste.

  9. Orangejulius says:

    Too bad that almost every meal I ate all over Italy cost me the equivalent of my car payment.

  10. enchantress says:

    In another year it’ll be “Kendra who?” so why care about it?

  11. April says:

    Bodhi, one step worse for me… Miss Teen SC went to the same high school I graduated from. *shakes head too*

  12. Alecto says:

    First of all. Like she looks like she eats all those carbs and calories. ALL THE TIME?!?!?!!. Yeah right. Second of all her voice is like nails on a chalk board. Sooooo FAKE!!

  13. Victoria says:

    HANG ON CANDYKAY………….. I will try to give you back your minute and a half, so we both can go back to posting and funning…… AND KRIS, It did not affect me either, until CANDYKAY, was upset, by the NO Talent Kendra… Why was this a story????? Can’t Olive Garden send her out the door with a basket a bread sticks and a bowl of salad??? Maybe she will be happy then??? And go away?

  14. kenslea Sahl says:

    I have been a guest at the Playboy Mansion for 12 years. I’ve seen
    the girls come and go and I’ve chatted with Hef’s wife Kimberly from
    time to time as our children were schooled together. I have to say,
    that Kendra is probably one of my favorites because she has the
    courage to be herself.
    Ok…so if you don’t like Hef or his lifestyle or the fact that the
    girls are fine with being one of 3 or 4 or 7…or whatever…but I
    can tell you that Mr. Hefner is one of the most generous, kind men I
    have ever met. Despite what the slew of you may think, the people who
    visit the mansion on a regular basis (many of them are over 60) are
    people who Hef has known for 40 plus years. Everyone is treated with
    great respect, including the girls, and no person is judged on wether they
    like The Sizzler or the Ivy….Hef has a great gift for loving people
    for just who they are and not for JUDGING….I happen to love the soup
    at the Olive Garden too….and I doubt anyone would ever refer to me
    as trailer park trash…
    Thank God Kendra feels good enough about herself not to have to jump
    on the ridiculous and embarassing “HOLLWOOD BANDWAGON.” No doubt that
    is what Hef loves about her…and despite what you may all
    think….there is a great deal of LOVE in that house that has nothing
    to do with SEX…. The Olive Garden should be thrilled to get all of the Publicity….it is about their food right? I doubt anyone will ever associate the Olive Garden with a place to have an orgy…unless it is with food…

    —- In the future, you can use this information to comment on the site:
    Username: mrssahl@aol.com
    Password c9455dfc

  15. CinPin says:

    Chill out Kenslea – no one said Hef is an a-hole (at least not on this thread), I think he seems cool.

    Kendra may be “real” but her real self is extremely annoying to many people.

    I never said anyone who likes OG is trailer trash–what I said is that if you prefer OG over real, authentic Italian food (which Kendra said she did), then you have trailer trash taste. That goes for liking any cheaper quality food over the authentic food that the cheaper food is modeled after.

  16. Christina X says:

    I don’t think the Olive Garden should worry about a celebrity endorsing their food because of their associations.

    On the other hand, is this supposed to be cute? Funny? I find it a little obnoxious, imo.

  17. pipsqueak says:

    kenslea- for goodness sakes, learn to spell and someone may listen to you.

  18. devilsadvocate says:

    Would very much like some Alfredo A-La-Kendra. Yummmmyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!!! :twisted:

  19. Kat says:

    Olive Garden shouldn’t worry about celebrity endorsements, they should worry about improving their awful food. Everything on the menu is drowning in tomato sauce. Yulk….

  20. tp Vero says:

    Why does it surprise anyone that this plastic blond likes plastic Italian food. She found a good gimmick to get some free garlic bread, which you would have trouble finding in and real restaurant in Italy. It is people like this that makes the Europeans think of us all as classless fat people who wear cowboy hats. Ok she is not fat, but eating like that she will be. Manga bene tu grande idiota!

  21. Kaiser says:

    Damn. Why does everyone have to hate Kendra and The Garden?

    So she’s a non-official “roving” ambassador. The Garden should simply be happy for the free publicity. Besides, I don’t even think the images of “The Girls Next Door” are even that anti-family/”sexy” – the last thing Hef is doing with those girls is having sex. They are an unconvential family in a nation of unconventional families.

  22. Holly says:

    OMG kenslea. Kendra “didn’t jump on the Hollywood bandwagon”….yet embodies everything superficial and whorish about it. What a well thought out argument.

    Actually, she’s just too stupid to realize how trashy she really is, its not being yourself, its called being oblivious.

  23. mollination says:

    @Alecto- Kendra actually does eat all the carbs and crap she says she does. And no, she doesn’t throw it back up. She is very blessed to have a good metabolism (not to mention she doesn’t eat gigantic american portions) plus she’s super athletic and works it all off.

    As for most of the celebs that claim “Oh I’m a bottomless pit, I could eat for days! I eat cake and bagels all day long and don’t even think about it”, I call major Bullshit. But kendra is actually legit.

  24. OXA says:

    Kendra’s favorite birthday gift was a gift certifcate to OG. she is entitled to like their food regardless of how authentic it is or much it costs.
    So many of you are snobs putting her down for her taste buds, what it costs is not important, it is how it tastes to you personally.

  25. mizzmish says:

    ha! we are italian from italy and we enjoy our OG every now and again but to compare it to good authentic italian cuisine is a total travesty

  26. Leandra says:

    They should be glad of any endorsement. Their food…well, I’m going to be polite and not say anything more.

  27. belle says:

    i love olive garden & the girls next door!

  28. Christina X says:

    Kenslea- Hugh Hefner’s nice to women who have something to offer him. In other words, Hugh Hefner only knows how to treat a woman if she looks good naked.

    He’s not really a good person. You’re just lucky, if you are in fact even telling the truth.

  29. Mairead says:

    Fully paid up pretentious snob here ;-) (btw, Oxa – good food is good food, regardless of what it costs)

    As I’ve said before, I’ve no idea what Olive Garden is like, but I cannot see how it would be better than most independent restaurants in Italy (save for some ultra- touristy dives in the centre of Rome or something) – most of which is cheap in comparison to similar restaurants elsewhere in Europe.

    Sometimes you just want cheesy, reliable or convenient – which is fine, but don’t pretend it’s any better than it is.

  30. elisha says:

    iT’S FUNNY HOW Olive Garden comes up so much on this blog in unrelated posts. It should have it’s own category.

  31. Lauri says:

    What’s so terrible about Olive Garden? Personally, I like it. No, I don’t think it’s authentic, but that’s fine. If I want authentic, I’ll hit Garibaldi’s downtown. But for a midprice meal that’s consistently good, why not?

    Yeah, I like Red Lobster, too.

  32. javagirl1 says:

    Kenslea you’ve met Hef? I’m so jealous! That is the number one celebrity I’d like to meet. He really does come across as a kind person.

  33. hello says:

    I challenge all of you food snobs to try one of their breadsticks and dislike it!!!

    And yes, it’s not real Italian food, but what tastes good, tastes good.

  34. jenifurrr says:

    so i used to work for the og like 5 years ago and this news sounds so crazy!!! first off there was a manager that was fucking every server/ hostess there (not me). and he even got my number from my employment forms and called me months after i had quit working there to try and “hang out”.

    also about a year after not being employed there they had a huge outbreak of hepatitis!!! ppl who ate there got sick (i think 4-5 ppl) and everyone who worked there had to get a shot!!!

    so wtf are they upset about? free publicity should be encouraged despite who it comes from!!!!!

  35. mizz marie bie says:

    so we are all arguing about what the hell she said to get olive garden to react and in a sense “freak out”!!! who cares??!?? the reason you all care is due to the simple fact that we as an advertised economy. thats what runs us and makes our heart keep pumping. dont any of you realize that? this is the way of our unfortante life. i only wish i could of lived in the time where making sure your farm was good enough to hold up the year in feeding your family and having great advetures living with out so much day to day. Yes there was stress , BUT not as much to stress about.. hit me back at mcchitty42@hotmail.com

  36. Wow she is really hot dude. Id buy the garden for her.

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