NEW YORK — Olive Garden is tossing out its famous “When You’re Here, You’re Family” slogan to cater to a more modern lifestyle.
After a 14-year run, the Italian restaurant chain will launch a new ad campaign Sunday night as it looks to freshen up its image and boost struggling sales.
Instead of evoking Old World charm, the new ads will feature brightly lit snapshots of modern life – little girls at ice skating practice, a woman striking a yoga pose, a group of friends taking a picture of themselves with a smartphone.
“We had been more about this traditional family meal – that long, lingering meal, with lots of laughter, lots of joy. It was a very stereotypical Italian family dinner,” said Jay Spenchian, executive vice president of marketing at Olive Garden. But the chain decided the image no longer reflected today’s hectic lives.
The new ads will kick off the first phase of a year-long overhaul for Olive Garden, which is owned by Darden Restaurants Inc. The Orlando, Fla.-based company is focusing on affordability and greater variety, a strategy similar to the one it’s taking at Red Lobster, its other major chain. To win back customers, one part of Olive Garden’s strategy is to focus on lighter options. So the chain known for its unlimited breadsticks and “Never Ending Pasta” on Monday plans to launch a new menu section that highlights dishes with 575 calories or less.
Olive Garden will also launch a “”Dinner Today, Dinner Tomorrow” offer, which gives customers who come in for dinner a second meal to take home. The take-home meals come refrigerated with the sauce separate and guests can pick from five entrees for $12.95. The offer ends Nov. 18.
The company says it plans to add a core “everyday value” section on its menu in January.