IHOP flipped its “P” on its head last week when it announced it was changing its name to IHOb leaving everyone to question—what does the “b” stand for. After days of speculation the company announced it stood for burgers. So why would a company that has built its entire, 60-year-old brand on delicious hotcakes make such a drastic change?
The “name change,” it turned out, was just a temporary spoof – all in the name (literally) of marketing.
First, the tease that left its customers and competitors alike speculating as to what the “b” stands for creating a social (and traditional) media firestorm that would continue well past the announcement. This is a testament to great public relations—creating a campaign that sparks interest and intrigue and allows the general public to convey the story. Whether you like the name change or not, people are talking about it.
Second, if you want to promote burgers then market to your competitors’ burger-loving customers. Major international burger chains pounced on the opportunity to poke fun at the name change, which not only made us laugh with their snarky and creative responses, but in the process, brought more attention to the fact IHOP was now serving burgers. (Burger King, for its part, mocked IHOP on social media by declaring a one-day name change to Pancake King.)
To be clear, burgers aren’t new to IHOP; most people know they serve more than just breakfast. But after asking their customers what they would like more of, the resounding answer was BURGERS. This campaign was designed to market their seven new burgers.
At Captivate, we believe that “nothing happens until someone gets excited,” and this campaign definitely got people excited.
Whether burgers start selling like hotcakes at IHOP is yet to be seen, but this campaign has all the right ingredients.