Olive Garden Changed Its Tagline…and I’m Not on Board

So, I was perched on the couch the other night, watching ABC online when Olive Garden’s 30-second spot caught my attention:

  1. Man, that food looked good.
  2. They got a new tagline!

I’ll let you watch for yourself before I go into why I think this was a poor move for the brand:

I’ll admit—I’m late to the party on this one. After doing a little bit of research, it turns out this change happened in late 2012. I also should probably add the disclaimer that, in my younger years, I got my first serving job at Olive Garden.

If you watched the clip, you’ll notice that the famous “When you’re here, you’re family” tagline has been swapped out for the newer, “We’re all family here.”

Now, I get that the brand has been struggling lately. At one point, it was even hard to turn on the news without hearing rumors that Darden was going under. A brand refresh, from a professional standpoint, could’ve made sense.

But, let me tell you my gut reaction to “We’re all family here:”

  1. WHaTttttt? They changed their tagline?!! No way, they’ve had it for-evvvverrrrr (after doing research, 14 years).
  2. I don’t like it.

After thinking on it for a couple minutes or so, I had to comment. Even my boyfriend could tell the wheels were turning in my head after my Olive Garden world had just been turned upside down.

From a branding perspective, I can’t say that it doesn’t make sense. It even fulfills the dual nature of the tagline challenge: it applies both externally to the consumer audience and internally to the Olive Garden staff. And, hey—I can’t argue that the message doesn’t make sense. Without taking into consideration the context in which this phrase is typically used, I might even say, “Way to go, OG. Very fresh.”

But just think for a second. When would you, as a typical American, utter the phrase, “We’re all family here?” If you’re anything like my family and friends, it’s probably when something inappropriate has been said, or when too much information has been revealed for the particular environment you’re in.

I think that’s why my immediate reaction was something along the lines of, “WHAT DID THEY DO?” With “We’re all family here,” I am removed from the welcoming comfort provided by, “When you’re here, you’re family,” to the discomfort lent by someone lightly apologizing for saying something a bit uncouth.

So, Olive Garden, I have to tell you: I love you. You are the cleanest and the safest, and your food really is delicious. (How often do people say that after seeing what goes on behind the scenes?) But I think you missed the mark on this one.

Photo Credit: Flickr’s Mike Mozart

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