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.

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, President and CEO of New York-based 5W Public Relations. He has overseen the company's rapid growth and expansion to the Inc. 500 list, as well as provided counsel to hundreds of companies, including members of the Fortune 500, Inc. 500 and Forbes 400. His work spans global interests, corporate entities, high-profile individuals, regional business entities, government agencies and academic institutions - both on routine public relations matters and extremely sensitive issues. One of the foremost public relations experts in the U.S., Torossian is known for his aggressive, results-focused orientation, as well as his close working relationships with members of the media, influencers, decision makers, politicians and celebrities. At 5W Public Relations, Torossian's client experience has included programs for Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Anheuser-Busch, Barnes & Noble, Cantor Fitzgerald, IHOP, McDonald's, Evian, EDS, VeriSign, XM Radio, Seagram's, The Loews Regency, Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment, Marriott Hotels, Vail Resorts, Pamela Anderson, Snoop Dogg, the Government of Israel, and others. Referred to by The New York Post as a "publicity guru," by Fox News as a "high-powered PR CEO," by Tyra Banks as a "crisis management guru," and by CNN as "a leading PR expert," Torossian is regularly featured in and quoted by the media, including by CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, NBC, The New York Times, and others. CBS National News said "Ronn Torossian knows spin," and a New York Times feature story on Torossian referred to him as "The consummate hard-driving, scrappy NY publicist." Earlier in his career, Torossian was a Vice President/Group Director for one of The InterPublic Group's (IPG) largest PR agencies, where he was responsible for significant client growth and successful client programs, including work for Clinique, Fox News Channel, DHL, Hard Rock Café and others. A resident of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Torossian was named to the Advertising Age "40 Under 40" list, PR Week's "40 Under 40" List, is a regular lecturer at universities and conferences, a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a board member of numerous non-profit organizations.