Last week, the International House of Pancakes (IHOP) announced it would be changing its name to IHOb. On Monday, the company unveiled what the B stands for, and IHOP fans were less than pleased.
“For 60 pancakin’ years, we’ve been IHOP. Now, we’re flippin’ our name to IHOb. Find out what it could b on 6.11.18,” the company teased.
— IHOP (@IHOP) June 4, 2018
A Twitter poll found that fans preferred “bacon” (41 percent) over “barnacles” (27 percent), “biscuits” (26 percent), and “butternut squash” (6 percent).
IHOb? What could it b? #IHOb
— IHOP (@IHOP) June 5, 2018
On Saturday, the company tweeted a video of a Beluga whale, suggesting the name “International House of Beluga.”
— IHOP (@IHOP) June 9, 2018
With great fanfare, IHOP announced what the B stands for: burgers! Wait, what?
IHOb unveiled its new line of steakburgers, attempting to rebrand the company to emphasize lunch and dinner, in addition to breakfast.
I am literally here right now!! they do look delicious 😋 pic.twitter.com/aEspnuzqfU
— lidia🔅 (@lidiaisabell) June 11, 2018
“The big opportunity for the IHOb brand is to develop our lunch and dinner business,” Chief Marketing Officer Brad Haley told USA TODAY. “Burgers are the most consumed entree item for men, women and children in America,” he added, arguing that “it made sense to start with burgers.”
Customers appeared rather unhappy with this rebrand, however.
“So IHOP, aka [IHOb] is now a burger place?? Why does this affect me so much. I can’t accept this. I feel betrayed,” actress Chrishell Hartley tweeted.
So IHOP, aka @IHOb is now a burger place?? Why does this affect me so much. I can't accept this. I feel betrayed
— Chrishell (@Chrishell7) June 11, 2018
Wendy’s had a saucy retort: “Not really afraid of the burgers from a place that decided pancakes were too hard,” the fast food joint tweeted.
Not really afraid of the burgers from a place that decided pancakes were too hard.
— Wendy's (@Wendys) June 11, 2018
Perhaps unsurprisingly, company spokesmen have confirmed that IHOP will actually remain itself and not alter its name to IHOb long term. Even so, it was an impressive stunt. The changes didn’t stop on Twitter — many restaurants actually altered their physical signs.
— Drew Malino (@DREWMALINO) June 7, 2018
Many attacked IHOb as a failed marketing stunt. “I’m no marketing genius, but I feel like this whole [IHOb] thing was fairly ill-conceived,” National Review‘s Alexandra DeSanctis tweeted.
I'm no marketing genius, but I feel like this whole @IHOb thing was fairly ill-conceived.
— Alexandra DeSanctis (@xan_desanctis) June 11, 2018
Ill-conceived or not, the stunt got a great deal of Americans excited and engaged in debating IHOP, increasing the brand recognition of an already well-known company.
“Really didn’t expect to be so emotionally affected by this whole IHOB thing,” actress Patti Murin tweeted.
Really didn’t expect to be so emotionally affected by this whole IHOB thing
— Patti Murin (@PattiMurin) June 11, 2018
That indeed may be the point: IHOb may be a temporary marketing stunt, but it proved annoying enough to be memorable. Fans who love pancakes seemed particularly cross to hear the fake news, and that proved their attachment to IHOP as it was and always will be.
Openly gay HuffPost blogger Brandon Cloud had a perfect quip about the whole thing. “It’s none of y’alls business what IHOb identifies as. It’s 2018, get with the program. You go [IHOb]. Stand in your truth,” Cloud tweeted.
It’s none of y’alls business what IHOb identifies as. It’s 2018, get with the program. You go @IHOb. Stand in your truth.
— Brandon Cloud (@theclobra) June 11, 2018
Americans can justifiably complain that IHOP was “playing” them. While the marketing stunt may be annoying, it appears to have been remarkably effective. Expect more name change fakes as other companies learn from IHOP’s example…