Et Tu, Olive Garden?

Applebee’s faced a huge backlash from the community when an employee uploaded a picture of a receipt where the customer refused to pay the given gratuity amount. The employee was then fired by the restaurant because the content of the receipt violated the customer’s privacy rights. This could have been an easy fix, but Applebee’s made several mistakes in regards to addressing people’s concerns and ultimately tarnished the restaurant’s reputation. 

Olive Garden hasn’t experienced the same fate, but the restaurant chain may have reached an all new low with online advertising campaigns. 

Last Wednesday, a picture of an Olive Garden receipt was posted on Reddit with the explanation: 

“My brother, wife, 3 year-old daughter and I went to Olive Garden after a recent house fire at my parents. When the manager asked how everything was my daughter said ‘Grandpa’s house burned down’. Here’s how we received the check.” 

 

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According to this article, the post received over 1,000 comments. However, many commenters were skeptical rather than supportive. There was one skeptic who worked in the advertising industry that claimed he had seen other companies/brands working on these kinds of campaigns to promote good will among their customer base. On the other hand, Reddit’s general manager Erik Martin believes that the receipt is real because a brand wouldn’t risk the potential harsh criticism if caught. 

Some comments mentioned that the placement of the Olive Garden’s logo was suspicious, but I think that someone who took the picture made sure to include the logo to give credit to the restaurant. If you look closely, the logo is on the typical black restaurant guest check book. In addition, I completely agree with Martin. Anyone who knows about Applebee’s blunder has blacklisted the restaurant. I highly doubt that Olive Gardens would put its reputation on the line for something as little as a picture of a receipt on Reddit. 

Self-Starters

Recently in my Management 3000 course, my professor spoke about entrepreneurial spirit and success stories about self-starters. I’ve always known that I would never have the ability to start up my own business mainly because of the risk of not being able to generate a successful idea. 

However, I recently read a Mashable article about Julie Deane, founder of Cambridge Satchel Company who started up her own company with an initial budget of only £600. I have become so accustomed to the process of how an entrepreneur started his/her company, but Deane’s story shocked me. 

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Deane should be the poster-child of a self-starter. Due to the limits on budget, she literally learned everything by herself through the Internet. She made the right steps in initially ensuring that her product would be unique. Additionally, Deane learned how to make a website in two days and made her own in one. She immersed herself and her products online through the Yellow Pages, Etsy, eBay, and a few blogs by using guerilla marketing. As things picked up with selling products, Deane was able to interact with some of her customers and receive feedback. One in particular completely revolutionized Deane’s company. 

Fashion blogs are notorious online. You can find them on YouTube channels, Tumblr accounts… literally any social platform. Deane was able to catch onto this and worked with some fashion bloggers to help generate ideas for new products while also increasing her customer base. As a result of her interaction with blogs, Deane grew widely renowned in the fashion industry and quickly became a huge success. 

What I found incredibly respectable was Deane’s desire to give back to the online community that helped her achieve success by using the ground floor of her first brick-and-mortar store as a space for fashion bloggers to write their next pieces on the next big thing. 

For all those entrepreneurs out there, here are some lessons learned from Julie Deane that Mashable listed:

  1. Take risks
  2. Be resourceful — DIY as much as possible
  3. Know your audience, how they behave and where they spend their time
  4. Don’t give your product away or sell it shot, but strategic gifting can go a long way
  5. Seize opportunities 
  6. Engage your fans, offer them a stake in your company
  7. Find valuable brand partners with whom to run competitions and giveaways
  8. Be authentic — Julie tweets about her dog, Rupert, which humanizes the brand
  9. Embrace the web and the platforms that live on it