What We Think About the IHOb/IHOp Marketing Stunt

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Written by: Kate Jacobsen

In honor of IHOP’s 60th anniversary we thought we would reflect their past months events. About a month ago, IHOP, International House of Pancakes, disclosed to the public the company’s name would change to IHOb, International House of Burgers. A little over a week ago IHOP announced that IHOb was a marketing stunt and not actually a company name change. Here at Grova, we are contemplating whether or not this is, in fact, true. We went back and forth between whether this was a genius marketing move or a major marketing mistake.

Why this is a genius marketing move?

On one hand, we recognized this announcement as an epic marketing stunt that gained IHOP a lot of publicity and their name trending all over social media and traditional media. In short, EVERYONE talked about it, including competitors. Another upside is that breaking this news to the public reminded people IHOP is more than a pancake house, but it did bring forth some consequences.

Why this is a marketing mistake?

Although IHOP reached a lot of Americans with this sudden company news, the effect was not all for the better of the brand. We recognized the idea behind this name change as a way for IHOP to promote the variety of food they offer, but we also realize that the outrage from this could be because it prompted a loss of identity for IHOP. Their company has such a clear, established brand as the house of pancakes, which already brings a high volume of people into their restaurants, so the introduction of a new identity for IHOP simply confused the public. Not only was this marketing move ineffective in creating a new face for IHOP, it has also been reported that a week after the announcement there were no increase in sales or foot traffic, a huge hindrance for IHOb’s potential.

What We Think.

They can say that this is a marketing stunt all they want, but we truly believe it was not. Why? The original intent was to change IHOP’s name to IHOb, but when IHOP found that there was zero increase in sales and the rising numbers in negative feedback, they decided to declare this as marketing stunt. Before the announcement that this was a stunt, they spent time and money producing multiple advertisements for radio and TV promoting IHOb and their burgers. We wonder if it was intended to be a marketing stunt from the beginning (like they claim), why did they take so long to announce this was a stunt? Furthermore, why did they not stick to a more comical and causal platform like social media to broadcast this joke and save valuable resources?

Today while driving to work, I heard IHOP’s “60th anniversary 60 cent pancake” radio ad. Shouldn’t this ad be all about the anniversary? Instead, their marketing team used valuable time to reassure the public that the company is IHOP with a “P,” not a “B,” because the “B was just a stunt.” This is suspicious because now IHOP has to spend more resources and money undoing the name confusion. Listen to the commercial yourself.

What we know for sure is that IHOP still stacks on top of the breakfast world, but the intent of IHOb continues to flip in the minds of their consumers.

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