Mid-Missouri Marketing Resource Blog

International House of Burgers: Marketing Fail or Genius?

Posted by Rebecca Milner on June 13, 2018 at 9:01 AM

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Unless you have been living under a rock for the last couple of weeks, you have heard about the infamous name change that’s coming to the International House of Pancakes. IHOP, who has always been known for its breakfast menu and most notably and obviously, its pancakes, will now be known as the International House of…burgers? Quite the change for a chain who has had a flapjack foundation since 1958.

Of course, it didn’t take long for the amused, baffled, and even angry, reactions to start rolling in on social media.

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IHOB Stepbrothers

So, why is this mind-blowing change happening? According to USA Today, the franchise is intent on enhancing its lunch and dinner business. The purpose of this rebrand is not to dismiss the importance of pancakes, but simply to celebrate the debut of their new burger line. IHOb President, Darren Rebelez, confirmed the restaurant’s dedication to breakfast by stating: “The pancakes haven't gone anywhere. They're still there. They're on the cover of the menu.”

Another aspect worth noting: The change is temporary, a detail that has been seemingly overshadowed in the wake of all of the social media hysteria.

So, why would IHOP cause such a frenzy just to temporarily announce to the world, “Hey! We sell burgers too!” Well, we’re talking about it, aren’t we? Everyone’s talking about it, right? So, maybe the pancake/burger-loving chain knows what they’re doing. Maybe we are the ones who are falling prey to exactly what IHOb wanted all along!

Here are four reasons why we are calling the IHOP/IHOb controversy sheer marketing genius:

1. Everyone’s talking about it. 

As of right now, basically everyone knows that IHOP has a new line of burgers. The story is all over local and national news. As we mentioned above, social media has completely exploded over the issue.

Think about it: If IHOP had quietly added burgers to their menu without a complete name change, no one would even be discussing it. After all, restaurants add new items to their menus all of the time. Instead, IHOb has created a full-fledged issue about their recent menu addition and millions of people are stepping up to the (dinner) plate with their opinions.

2. Everybody’s craving pancakes! 

Blame it on the power of suggestion, but before IHOP announced its name change, pancake sales were likely at a reasonable plateau. Since the International House of Burgers’ introduction, many are reporting their immediate (and strong) desire for, you guessed it, pancakes! This factor alone should prove to be beneficial to IHOb’s overall sales.

Pancake Tweets

3. People want to try IHOb’s new burgers. 

IHOb’s most sought-after goal in all of this is obviously to increase awareness of their new burger menu. The good news for them is that curiosity is definitely piqued. People are wondering: “Will we start ordering burgers instead of pancakes now?” and “Will these new burgers even be any good?” (According to Business Insider, they are!) Curiosity is a powerful motivator and IHOb’s sales will likely see the results of this marketing tactic.

4. Branding is powerful! 

The entire IHOp/IHOb issue resonates with us because it demonstrates the power of a brand. Consider the fact that the vast majority of the population had some sort of reaction to the IHOb name change. This confirms that IHOP has cemented its name and products in the minds of consumers, so much so that any changes to this brand actually upset, confused, or intrigued a large percentage of the public. IHOb understood this concept when they instigated their infamous name change. Only time will tell if IHOb's sales will rise as a result of all of this, but one thing is for sure: The public’s outcry has only reiterated the fact that a recognizable branding strategy is certainly powerful!

So, what are we suggesting? Should your business make a major name, logo, or overall branding change in order to stir up some publicity? Well, not necessarily. Rebranding is a serious undertaking that businesses should approach with wisdom and caution.

The main takeaway here is that, whether your business realizes it or not, the public is taking notice of your branding. That’s because well-established brands set expectations in consumers’ minds. The public will carry these expectations with them until the time they need your products or services, at which point, they will transform from ordinary consumers into loyal customers. Great branding truly is necessary for businesses who want to stir up a buzz and make an impact.

Now, if you’ll excuse us, we’re craving a stack of pancakes right about now. Or maybe a burger. Either way, there’s no mistaking that IHOb has them both!

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Topics: Marketing Strategy

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