the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

More Grouchy Rants About Corporations

I thought I could come up with a funny post if I found out that Dockers/Levi Strauss — the company that was screwing me over with their fake free-flight promotion and making it difficult for me to go to BlogHer — was actually a sponsor of BlogHer.  Unfortunately, I struck out.   They’re not.

But — jeez, BlogHer has a lot of corporate sponsors on their website.  How much do each of them have to pay to get in on this?  It is nice that corporations are so willing to help their female customers.  I don’t want to be cynical and suggest it is all markeing.  But will these same companies be there when the products break down?  Or will you then be talking to Menuel from India on the phone?  Maybe companies should spend less money on social media experts and marketing to us on Twitter and conferences, and more on hiring customer service representatives.

Anyway, like I said, this would have been a funnier post if Dockers/JCPenney was a sponsor of BlogHer.  The only interesting tidbit I found out about BlogHer is that the major platinum sponsor of the San Franciso, California conference is General Motors, the company directly responsible for 30% of all carbon emissions in California. 

“This year’s sponsor line-up is a testament to top-tier brands realizing the necessity of reaching influential women who have shifted their attention to online sources of information and entertainment, and taking a proactive approach to reach them through our conference,” said Jory Des Jardins, BlogHer co-founder and president of strategic alliances. “BlogHer’s annual conference provides the perfect platform for marketers and advertisers to connect directly with consumers and create relationships with key influencers. The conference presents an opportunity to learn firsthand what these women are all about.”

Enjoy the fresh California air.

Luckily, there are some some corporations that do try hard to please their customers.  Over the past three years, I’ve received some very nasty comments from Olive Garden servers on my blog, all because of one 2005 post where Sophia and I discuss sharing the “unlimited soup and salad.”   I have been called “cheap,” “miserly,” “an asshole” and several names unfit to print.  After complaining to Olive Garden executive offices, I received a phone call from the CEO himself.  He was “shaking in his boot,” to use the old term, knowing the far reach of “Citizen of the Month.”

Olive Garden CEO:  “What can I do for you to make this up to you?  Your sarcastic comments about our fake Italian atmosphere and cheapo wine is killing our business!  I can give you a special VIP card that will give unlimited free soup and salad bars for the rest of your life!  How about that?”

Neil:  “I do enjoy your minestrone soup, but how many times in a week can any one person go to Olive Garden?  That VIP card would get as much use as my 24-Hour Fitness Card.”

Olive Garden CEO:  “Name your price.  I know you are big in the mommyblogger community.  Our franchises are half-empty because of your power.”

Neil:  “I don’t want your money.  If anything, the rudeness didn’t come from the corporate offices, but from the Olive Garden servers themselves.  I know some of them need this job to work their way through their community colleges, but they were the ones who called me those horrible names on my blog.

Olive Garden CEO:  “I’m sure we could figure out a way for the Olive Garden servers to make it up to you in a reasonable manner.”

Neil:  “Actually, I do have an idea.”

Several months later, Playboy published this pictorial.

While I respect Olive Garden for their responsive customer service, and admit that some of their servers are cute (but probably too young for me), your restaurant still sucks.

Update:  Just wanted to add that this Playboy pictorial, “Girls of Olive Garden” is true.  Kendra Wilkinson, one of Hugh Hefner’s “girlfriends,” loves Olive Garden so much, she suggested this idea to “Hef.”

Here is a video of Kendra talking about her favorite restaurant. The only reason I include it here is to fight against the fallacious stereotype that Playboy bunnies are really stupid.   In fact, if Olive Garden sponsored BlogHer next year, I wouldn’t be surprised to see her as one of the speakers on the “Monetizing Your Video Blog” panel.


  1. Whit

    I believe I need to see more pictures before making up my mind.

  2. AnnieH

    Don’t be dogging on my Menuel. I luuuuvvvv him.

  3. Chag

    Can’t wait for The Girls of Wal-Mart!

  4. Nat

    Girls of Walmart are all definitely pushing geriatric in this neck of the woods.

    One of the worst, if not the absolutely worst restaurant meals we ever had was at Olive Garden (the one here eventually went out of business.) The service was awful. The food was worse (raw noodles, cold soup.) Server was rude. Gonna take more than half naked servers for us to go back there. (Male or female.)

  5. Mr Lady

    I am suddenly really sad that you’re not coming to BlogHer.

  6. HappyCampers

    That’s so funny! Was that a for real pictorial? oh my…

  7. Assertagirl

    We love Olive Garden, dammit. But there aren’t any around here anymore. We have to go to America to eat there.

  8. Whit

    Hey, I’m embarrassed that I know this, but they did the Girls of Wal-Mart a few years ago. It made news around here because one of the girls worked at our nearest store. I had to stop and buy diapers anyway, so…

  9. HeyJoe

    The Girls of Olive Garden?! Do they come with all-you-can-eat breadsticks??

  10. Memarie Lane

    My Olive Garden servers have never ever looked like that.

    One of my best friends has master’s degrees in English Lit and American History, both which ended up being completely useless. The only job she was able to find with such qualifications was waiting tables at a restaurant only slightly more upscale than The Olive Garden (and no she didn’t look like that either). She found that her tips were higher if she put on a fake British accent. ALL of her co-servers also had university degrees, her supervisor had a doctorate.

    And her customers were always telling her, “you seem like such a smart young woman, I hope you get a degree someday!” It was a standing joke around there.

    Now she teaches high school English.

  11. anymommy

    We love OG around here too, because humans under three years old love noodles and OG serves them up fast. So, while your power in the mommyblogger sphere is vast, there is a limit to your reach. Don’t mess with my kid-friendly noodle restaurants.

  12. Jody

    Her favorite dish is salad. I don’t think I go out of the way to go to any restaurant just because they serve a great salad especially OG. yuck!

  13. Miss Britt

    If I had to guess, like, how many times she said Olive Garden, I would prolly have to say… like.. uh a lot. Like a lot a lot.

  14. Neil

    Miss Britt — the whole video seemed weird, especially with the Olive Garden promotion in the background. Isn’t the Olive Garden where suburban families go to eat? What brainiac at Olive Garden decided this was good PR? Olive Garden is not Hooters. It is a very non-sexy environment for Playboy to go to. I have had many weird fantasies in my life, but I can honestly say that I have never fantasized about my Olive Garden server.

  15. TRO

    My lord that blonde in the green is fantastic . . .

  16. Lucy

    I am old enough to miss true customer service. After taking a red eye flight home following a week of business travel, I wanted to crash on my sofa with a stash of books and a couple of downloaded movies from iTunes. The movies won’t download, and Zenub feels bad, per his script. He keeps sending me links to Help pages I visited before contacting him for iSupport. Boo Apple. Boo!

  17. Lucy

    Oh, and I dislike Olive Garden but agree that the blonde in green is very cute.

  18. All Adither

    The only people who think Olive Garden is good grub are college kids. And three-year-olds. And playboy bunnies. The rest of us know that the Target hot dog and popcorn counter is where it’s at.

  19. Jennifer H

    Kendra got hung up on deciding between her three favorite things. I predict the decision will go more smoothly if she decides among them.

    Admit it, you watch Girls Next Door. And you have a favorite.

  20. Neil

    Jennifer — I had to Google “Girls Next Door.” My TV porn tends to be “The Bachelor.”

  21. mary

    The 2nd pic – really? REALLY? Wow.

  22. sassy

    That video (and her laugh) killed me.

  23. Jane

    Okay, I don’t like BlogHer at all, or Dockers, and those girls from the Olive Garden just make me sad, because you’ve gotta know it was the lousy tippers — and yes! the freaking salad sharers! — that made them desperate enough to pose…

    but I definitely think you deserve the free flight, and double bonus miles, for having to deal with fucktards like Menuel.

  24. Neil

    Everytime I watch that video, I can’t stop thinking that this is one of Hef’s girlfriends. You think is a real thing or a publicity thing? Forget about the age thing, where the guy could be her great-grandfather. She just seems so dumb. Even if she if fun and great in bed, how can he endure being with that laugh? Can’t he find a better Playboy model to shack up with? I mean Hugh Hefner must be a relatively bright guy in order to run a business — what do they talk about? Olive Garden?

  25. Backpacking Dad

    Hey dude, back away from the Olive Garden. Slowly. And then I won’t have to cut you.

  26. Annie

    This stuff is stranger than fiction!

  27. gorillabuns

    As I stated last week, Olive Garden IS NOT real Italian food.

  28. Pants

    I think Kendra should have her vagina revoked.

  29. Dawn

    I’m a Wal-Mart associate and I’m only 24. 🙂 We have plenty of young associates at our store. Perfect for that layout!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial