ihop publicity stunt

Sometimes, companies need to do something dramatic if they want to get some attention in an overly-saturated marketplace. In a world where everyone is shouting over each other to earn the interest of the same customers, it’s difficult to make a lasting impression. IHOP responded to that problem by changing their name for a short while to “IHOb”.

Initially, the business known for its pancakes simply changed their name without telling people why they were making the transformation. Obviously, this mystery alone was enough to get people’s attention. People started speculating across social media and forums about what the new title could mean, and the conversation around IHOb began to buzz.

The question is, was the name change a great idea for IHOP’s marketing team, or have they simply risked enraging their customers?

Customers Aren’t Happy with the Name Change

When the brand finally revealed that they changed their name to switch the “p” for pancakes to “b for burgers – the response wasn’t entirely positive. Though IHOP often includes burgers as part of it’s menu, the business recently launched a refresh of their burger line, which is why they’re drawing so much attention to the offering. There’s now approximately seven new burgers to choose from on the menu, including a breakfast burger, and one that’s topped with swiss cheese and mushrooms.

According to the CMO for the chain, Brad Haley, everyone already knows that IHOP is synonymous with great pancakes. However, the business isn’t exactly well-known for it’s burger offering. They decided that switching their name – even only temporarily to the “International House of Burgers” would show how serious they are about their burger line.
Unfortunately, people weren’t happy with the change. As human beings, we tend to prefer familiarity over sudden transformations – and this was no exception. Many people online started expressing their outrage – commenting that IHOP isn’t nearly as well-known for its burgers as it is for its pancakes.

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Did the Marketing Stunt Work?

Though countless consumers have simply written the IHOP marketing stunt off as crazy, the truth is that it’s actually quite effective. Though the response to the name change might not be a positive one, it’s served the purpose of getting everyone to start talking about IHOP, or IHOb again – which was what the company wanted in the first place.

Additionally, it’s safe to say that when the marketing stunt dies down, there’ll be a lot more people out there who associate IHOP with burgers as well as pancakes. This means that when the company changes its name back to the international house of pancakes, they won’t have to worry about continuously marketing their new line of burgers.

As most companies know, the best marketing strategies often come with some level of risk attached to them. While a name-change might not work for every business, it certainly helped IHOP to make an impact on their social media following. It seems that for this campaign in particular, the company was going for an “any publicity is good publicity” approach to getting their voice heard.

5WPR CEO Ronn Torossian – founder of 5W Public Relations.

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Ronn Torossian is the Founder & Chairman of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently owned PR firms in the United States. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth and vision, with the agency earning accolades including being named a Top 50 Global PR Agency by PRovoke Media, a top three NYC PR agency by O'Dwyers, one of Inc. Magazine's Best Workplaces and being awarded multiple American Business Awards, including a Stevie Award for PR Agency of the Year. With over 25 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected public relations executives. Throughout his career he has advised leading and high-growth businesses, organizations, leaders and boards across corporate, technology and consumer industries. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications. He has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly in the media and has authored two editions of his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations," which is an industry best-seller. Torossian's strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, a Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, and a recipient of Crain's New York Most Notable in Marketing & PR. Outside of 5W, Torossian serves as a business advisor to and investor in multiple early stage businesses across the media, B2B and B2C landscape. Torossian is the proud father of two daughters. He is an active member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a board member of multiple not for profit organizations.