You’ve probably heard about the crisis surrounding Olive Garden recently. The company apparently pulled its commercials from The Late Show after Letterman made his now infamous insensitive jokes about the Palin family. Or did it? Sources have apparently confirmed that the reasoning behind the removal of the commercials was in fact the Letterman jokes. At the same time, in its official statements the company has denied that the jokes were the motivating factor.
Olive Garden is owned by Darden Restaurants, and, as author Chuck Ross points out, “Like most big companies, [Darden Restaurants] abhors controversy.” “Controversy is not a win-win,” he says, “much better keeping as many people happy with your product and/or service as possible, so they will keep buying them.” He speculates that this is the reason behind the contradictory information the company has provided the public on this issue.
Ironically, the same statements that were supposed to facilitate mass appeasement have led Olive Garden to become “embroiled in a controversy.” This situation is a great example of the need for consistency, transparency and organizational unity when dealing with a crisis situation!
How do you think Olive Garden could have better handled the situation? How would you handle the situation if a similar circumstance would befall your organization?