International House of Pancakes – the ubiquitous American fast food chain, famous for it’s tasty breakfast offerings accompanied by towering stacks of fluffy pancakes. A success story lasting 60 years and a favourite with locals and tourists alike, it came as a bit of a shock when they announced on June 4th that they were changing their name to IHOB!
What the B stood for was anyone’s guess and the internet was awash with speculation and suggestions – Bananas? Bitcoin? Breakfast?
IHOP’s marketing team posted the announcement first of all on their Twitter account prompting celebrities like Chrissy Teigen to tweet their frustration that things were about to change with their favourite pancake house. IHOP then upped their social media game by posting a quiz for followers to guess what the B might stand for.
The ploy worked, within a few days their video had been viewed over 6 million times and their posts shared many thousands of times. The public, however, were none the wiser as IHOP continued to stoke the social media fires without giving anything away.
Then on June 11th, the company announced finally that the B stood for Burgers! They also revealed however, that they were not planning to change their name, merely to highlight the fact that they no longer want to be known solely as a breakfast joint, but that they have lunch and dinner options available on their menu in the form of burgers amongst other items.
So, was it a clever marketing ploy or a cynical attempt to lie? This type of marketing initiative has worked spectacularly in the past. Who can forget Marilyn Monroe’s white dress incident (totally staged) or when Prince (briefly) changed his name to The Artist Formerly Known as Prince. IHOP manipulated social media brilliantly and it has earned their parent company, Dine Brands Global Inc, a 30% rise in their stocks over the period of the campaign, success in anybody’s book.
Long term though, commentators have stated that for IHOP to enjoy continued success following their campaign, they may need to concentrate on the quality of the burgers they are offering and they will also have to focus on improving quality at their 1,650 outlets.
Overall, it seems that the marketing ploy did indeed work a treat, there are even rumours circulating that at least one IHOP in Hollywood will indeed be changing it’s name to IHOB – watch this space!