I’m back again with the final chapter of the IHOb saga. By now you know that International House of Pancakes, known better as IHOP, changed it’s name out of the blue to become IHOb. The world questioned what that “b” stood for, only to find out that it was for “burger”. Yes, burger, something they already had on their menu and was completely off brand for the pancake giant. If that’s not enough of a summary for you, go check out part one of this blog series.
Alas, IHOb returned to its former glory as IHOP, and expected everyone to just accept this random chain of events. I was certainly skeptical of all of this hoopla. It’s a risky move to put your brand on the line in a publicity stunt like this. In the age of instant gratification on social media, it’s certainly tempting to throw caution to the wind and pull a stunt to get some attention and media buzz. But, is it really worth possibly losing your fan base in the process? I wasn’t so sure how it would turn out. It was clear from the start that they got a whole lot of attention, but is all that attention going to translate into burgers sold?
Well, in the finale of this burger/pancake story, we have the results. Turns out, IHOb sold a bunch of burgers. Despite the backlash and becoming the butt of all the jokes on their competitors’ social media accounts, IHOb has come out victorious. They sold so many burgers it’s hard to believe they didn’t just keep that name changed for good. According to delish.com, IHOb burger sales jumped four times during the fiscal quarter that they shifted names! Beyond the burger sales, there were 20,000 news articles written about IHOb/IHOP. There were 36 billion social media impressions. 36 billion! Marketing Dive reports that social media mentions of the brand reached 4 billion people. That’s some seriously great free advertising.
So, what’s the lesson here? I stand by my assessment that publicity stunts are risky. Sure, IHOP came out on top, for now, but that doesn’t mean that every brand should jump on the bandwagon and find the most ridiculous way to get social media attention. IHOP’s stunt worked because they had a simple idea that was just perplexing enough to get social media users to do all the marketing heavy lifting for them. The curiosity to try the burgers was stimulated by the overwhelming amount of chatter about the brand on all different media platforms. Brands and marketers can learn from IHOP that, much like your favorite movies or TV shows, a clever twist is all it takes to grab an audience and get them looking at your brand. Even if you’re thinking of a rebrand, an easy social media play could be a great way to freshen up your image and get fans looking at you in a different way.
There you have it. The IHOb/IHOP story has come to a close and we can all take away a few things from this interesting experiment. Surely it won’t be long before another brand attempts some absurd trick to make us all whip our heads around and focus our attention on them. For now, it’s great to see that this story had a happy ending for the International House of… many different foods that sell well.