From Pancakes To Burgers (And Other PR Stunts)
On Monday IHOP turned its P upside down and rebranded itself as IHOb. There was considerable speculation in the industry that the “b” would stand for breakfast, as a reflection of IHOP’s attempt to broaden its menu offerings beyond just the Pancake swim lane. As it turns out the new letter stands for burgers and not any other b-word. But rest easy pancake lovers of the world, the International House of Burgers pivot was just a temporary name change stunt designed to garner social buzz.
So did this stunt help IHOP? It depends who you ask. From a pure social amplification stand point they had several times more viral impressions on Monday than a typical day. However, a good portion of the commentary was negative. So it’s hard to tell if it was really worth it.
Over the years other brands have tried changing their names, either permanently or in IHOb-like stunts, to garner attention. AdWeek has a summary of other notable attempts, and what happened with the brands after their name changes. Some instances were legitimate efforts to reposition the brands, like when Pizza Hut tried to become just “The Hut” in 2009. Or how about the time BP tried to change its first name from British to “Beyond” Petroleum in 2000? I wonder if BP considered ruining the Gulf Shore with its Deep Water Horizon disaster as part of their Beyond mandate? (Sorry, I still can’t buy gas from them.) Other name changes were meant to be temporary. I’m guessing you got drunk on patriotism when Budweiser changed its name to “America” in the summer of 2016, right? Then there were confusing name changes – like when Netflix tried to separate its streaming product from its CD delivery system and rebrand the CD side as “Qwickster”. I assume they didn’t know the rule in the English language about always following Q with a U.
If these examples are any indication IHOP’s burger stunt won’t give them much of a long-term boost. Unless maybe then run a cross-promotion with AB to serve a cold can of America with their new burger specials?!?