IHOP rebranding as IHOb took the internet by storm and created a bunch of buzz, even though it was a hoax.
Recently, the International House of Pancakes, better known as IHOP announced it will rebrand itself as the International House of Burgers. All over social media people had mixed reactions ranging from disappointment to anger. It turns out that this was a hoax from the IHOP marketing department intended to bring awareness to their lunch and dinner menus. This is a great play for IHOP for many reasons.
The truth of IHOb
IHOP announced that it was changing its name to IHOb and for a week, let people speculate as to what the "b" stood for. Many thought it would stand for "breakfast" to draw attention to the fact that IHOP serves more than just pancakes.
After the week-long social media debate, IHOP finally revealed that the "b" would stand for burgers. Reaction was immediate. International House of Betrayal was a common anthem. Shortly after this announcement, IHOP told the truth. It was all a marketing stunt to draw attention to their lunch and dinner menu options and create awareness as IHOP has been forced to close stores recently.
A stroke of marketing genius
Over the years the P in IHOP has taken over the brand. Pancakes is all that most people think the restaurant serves. It turns out that they are open for lunch and dinner, too. And they serve burgers! Because of the overpowered influence of pancakes in most people's minds, the chain has had trouble selling lunch and dinner.
With declining sales and a rough financial future, in comes the marketing department to save the day. The team decided to use this stunt as a platform to raise awareness about lunch and dinner options at IHOP.
IHOb equals burgers took over the internet during a speculative week. Actually changing the company name would destroy the brand, but a little teasing made people realize that IHOP can be a lunch and dinner destination, too
Why it worked
Today's world of social media helped fuel the flames. Decades ago, something like this would require weeks or months of campaign development, media announcements, news stories, etc. But in the digital age, a few tweets can create the same effect in a matter of hours and spread like wildfire.
Lots of people believe what they read on social media and for better or worse, companies can take advantage of it. IHOP brilliantly manipulated people and simultaneously created excitement for a brand people have loved for years.
Ethan Hausmann is currently the Vice President of Marketing and Community Outreach for Successtar Enterprises LLC. He is an author, professional speaker, and seminar/workshop instructor. Ethan has extensive knowledge and experience in marketing, customer service, leadership, and other small business related concerns.