Where’s the beef? Apparently, it was hiding in your local pancake shop.
Yep, the International House of Pancakes’ switch from IHOP to IHOb wasn’t just a marketing gimmick. The company is now, drumroll please, the International House of … burgers? (Not burghers, though that might be next.)
The much-debated use of the IHOb did not mean the firm had changed its focus to breakfast. It’s now a burger company that also does pancakes. No matter how you slice it, that’s IHOP/IHOb trying to have its pancake and meat it, too.
And, this isn’t a New Coke disaster. Because Coca-Cola survived that one. The jury is still out to see what kind of pickle IHOb lands in. This looks more like desperate marketers trying to keep an old firm from becoming a has-been by reminding customers it’s a has-bun.
“The company both changed its Twitter handle and propped up signs with the new logo,” wrote USA Today. The new Twitter account is @IHOb with a tagline that’s hard to swallow: “Burgers so burgerin’ good, we changed our name to IHOb. For burgers.” (Hey kids, you too can write marketing phrases that are “so burgerin’ good” that you make enough cheddar to put on your burgers.) IHOb picked Droga5 as its ad agency of record back in November. If you have a beef with anyone, that’s a good candidate to chew out.
IHOb has put its buns on the line long term with this move.
The marketing strategy appears simple: This is America and apparently we have no burger joints. Except Shake Shack, In-N-Out, Five Guys (my personal favorite) and Whataburger, to name a few. Every one of those chains figures they can eat IHOb’s lunch. McDonald’s and Burger King ignored the upstart. Wendy’s took a bite out of its new competition: “Not really afraid of the burgers from a place that decided pancakes were too hard.”
The Washington Post argued that, “IHOP’s name change is what happens when brands exploit the Internet outrage cycle.” It claimed the company is taking advantage of the internet to remind people it also sells burgers.
Forbes suggested it was “Because Hotcakes Aren't Selling Like Hotcakes.” That’s the burger version of Joseph Schumpeter’s “Creative Destruction.” (Go ahead, find an IHOP story with Schumpeter in it, I dare you!)
This rebranding culminates days of drama with the IHOP twitter account having a whale of a good time proposing terms for the “b” like the “International House of Beluga.” The fight over the possible name change consumed much of the internet, or was consumed by it. IHOb nee IHOP even posted a Twitter survey asking for votes on what followers thought the “b” might b for. The options included butternut squash and barnacles, only slightly less surprising than reheating the old burger idea.
IHOb has put its buns on the line long term with this move. It risks alienating actual customers in an attempt to get new ones. That’s a cost/benefit analysis and IHOb is hoping the “b” in benefit stands for burgers.