June 4, 2018. One tweet. One 6 second gif. IHOP announced it was changing its name to “IHOB” and threw the Twitterverse into an immediate uproar. Of course, we know now this was just clever marketing campaign and not a complete rebranding. IHOP tweeted out cryptic messages the following days before revealing that the “B” stood for burgers. IHOP did not make this change on a whim, they used data and consumer insights to inform their decision.
— IHOP (@IHOP) June 4, 2018
Increasing Brand Awareness
Opportunity: IHOP’s brand awareness had seen a consistent decline for years, especially on Twitter. Prior to the IHOB campaign, restaurants had seen a decline in foot traffic for the last 10 quarters (Lucas, 2019). Not only was IHOP’s brand awareness declining but so was their namesake product, pancakes. Average consumer interest in pancakes had fallen approximately 20% since 2010 (Jordano, 2018).
Results: On Google’s search popularity scale (0-100), IHOP saw peak popularity the week following the IHOB campaign launch. This proved to be their highest search popularity rank for all of 2018 (see chart below). In the first ten days of the campaign, IHOP saw 42.6 billion impressions & 1.2 million tweets. After a few weeks, the brand earned an estimated $113 million in earned media (Zanger, 2019).
Addressing Changing Consumer Interests
Opportunity: Enter the burger. Burger popularity on Twitter has more than doubled since 2013. Although IHOP served burgers, the general public did not associate them with their brand. When IHOP announced the “B” stood for burgers, it helped generate buzz about their new & improved product line.
Results: At the peak of the IHOB campaign, the restaurant was selling 500,000 burgers per week, approximately 4 times its normal rate. In addition, IHOP’s parent company, Dine Brands, reported sales grew 1.2 percent during its third quarter (Lucas, 2019).
In addition to the digital support this campaign received, IHOP CMO Brad Haley acknowledged that it was equally important to bring the initiative to life in the real world. That is when IHOP started changing out select stores’ signage to the new IHOB. The physical change was just as beneficial as the initial Twitter messages. Influencers shared photos of the unveiling of the new sign and celebrities and average Joes alike lost their minds.
Although IHOP changed their name back from IHOB, they still managed to bring back the fun this past week to celebrate National Pizza Day with Pancizzas – pizza sized pancakes. They even offered three flavors: Buttermilk Pancizza, Cupcake Pancizza or Bacon & Cheddar Pancizza (Griner, 2019). Time and data will tell how successful this new initiative was for IHOP. What’s next? Hot dogs? Steaks? Cupcakes? How do you think IHOP can stay ahead of its competitors? How can they remain top-of-mind for consumers?
— IHOP (@IHOP) February 7, 2019
- Griner, D. (2019, February 08). IHOP Serves Up Slices of ‘Pancizza’ for National Pizza Day. Yes, It’s a Pizza-Sized Pancake. Retrieved February 11, 2019, from https://www.adweek.com/creativity/ihop-serves-up-slices-of-pancizza-for-national-pizza-day-yes-its-a-pizza-sized-pancake/
- Jordano, L. (2018, June 15). Here’s the Data Behind IHOb’s Seemingly Stupid Name Change. Retrieved February 11, 2019, from https://www.adweek.com/creativity/heres-the-data-behind-ihobs-seemingly-stupid-name-change/
- Lucas, A. (2019, February 07). IHOP’s Fake Name Change Helped it Sell 4 Times More Burgers. Retrieved February 11, 2019, from https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/07/ihops-fake-name-change-helped-it-sell-4-times-more-burgers.html
- Zanger, D. (2019, February 07). ‘B’ Is for Brilliant: How IHOP’s Stunt Success Started With a Better Burger. Retrieved February 11, 2019, from https://www.adweek.com/brand-marketing/b-is-for-brilliant-how-ihops-stunt-success-started-with-a-better-burger/