In mid-2018, the International House of Pancakes (IHOP) tweeted that they were changing their name by turning the P upside-down to make it IHOb.
Was their Twitter account hacked? Did they just make the biggest mistake in branding for a company known as IHOP since 1973? OR was this a brilliant marketing ploy?
Established in 1958, with over 1650 stores worldwide by 2015, why would anyone rebrand? Hmmm… 2018 – 1958 = 60 years… probably a marketing campaign for a 60th birthday, me thinks.
Well played IHOP, you got people talking.
The publicity stunt caused the IHOP brand to trend about 15% higher than their 2018 average for Word of Mouth, according to YouGov.
Vague on purpose, IHOP had people guessing what the “b” stood for. Some speculated it might stand for breakfast, biscuits, burgers or bacon. Of course, the best choice would have been bacon, am I right??
Their marketing team used social media to boost engagement and create suspense and anticipation by telling fans there would be a huge announcement on June 11th. Social media was buzzing with polls of what the “b” might be.
When June 11th approached, IHOb announced that they were now releasing a new line of beef patties. After the announcement, fans took to social media to share their opinion.
Clever Competitor Responses
We’ve seen some pretty hilarious posts from competitors, like this one from A&W…
Inspired by the International House of Burgers announcement, we are also changing our name (Please do not ask what it means — we don’t know either.) pic.twitter.com/0HPQtQirHn
— A&W Restaurants (@awrestaurants) June 11, 2018
Wendy’s with the burn!
Not really afraid of the burgers from a place that decided pancakes were too hard.
— Wendy’s (@Wendys) June 11, 2018
Netflib sounds so much better.
brb changing my name to Netflib
— Netflix US (@netflix) June 11, 2018
Burger King will now be known as Pancake King
This one from a Twitter fan…
“Hi, welcome to International House of Burgers, what can I get you?”
— Shane Dahlstrom (@Dahlstrom_Shane) June 11, 2018
Not letting on to it being a marketing ploy, IHOP continued operating as IHOb (International House of Burgers). They even began changing store signs to the newly branded IHOb logo with banners welcoming people to the Grand Re-Obening.
On July 9th, they announced that they were reverting back to IHOP, using the media exposure to brand their 60¢ Pancakes for their 60th anniversary.
Whether people liked the media stunt or not, it got people talking. In my books, it was a successful marketing campaign, though the stats are yet to show the impact.