IHOP has been all over the news for the past few weeks (never thought I’d say that). For those too busy to notice (or care), IHOP temporarily changed its name to IHOb, (as a part of their hot-off-the-griddle marketing campaign). Going from “International House of Pancakes” to “International House of Burgers,” all in an effort to revamp their burger-centered lunch and dinner menus.
Well then. This has caused some serious controversy across the country among the general restaurant-faring, social media-using population. I mean, as much national controversy as an IHOP can generate, right? But, again, here we are – I’m writing this article about IHOP and now you’re reading it.
They must be doing something right, because since when does anyone care about IHOP? Since when does a breakfast chain earn national media coverage, and since when does a small digital company feel the need to cover it in a blog post? Is this what I thought I’d be doing with my college education? No, but it’s fine. I’m fine.
ANYWAY, this is exactly the point — have we ever talked about IHOP like this before? The answer is no, and if you have, then I don’t wanna know ‘bout it. See, IHOP had this idea, this marketing tactic aimed at increasing and diversifying traffic during non-breakfast hours. In order to pull it off with a bang instead of a fizzle, they had to get the public’s attention. So, they decided to make a bold move.
In my opinion, IHOP’s “IHOb” campaign was genius, and here’s why:
It was extremely well timed.
If you look at the data, the last few years have not been kind to our friend IHOP. IHOP has seen a steady decrease in social media followers, mentions, and most importantly, in sales. To make matters worse, data from Twitter shows that people are becoming less interested in pancakes, and more interested in burgers. I think you know where this is going.
As a digital marketer, I love seeing data-based decisions pay off big. IHOP had enough self-awareness to take this otherwise-depressing data and turn it into their gain. It’s so satisfying to see companies embrace data, choosing to cater to the trends of today’s consumer base, instead of fighting the data and resisting change in a battle they’re inevitably going to lose. Honestly, I truly believe IHOP pulled this one out of the bag exactly when they needed to. Alright IHOP, I see you.
They used controversy to get publicity.
I’m using this word lightly. It feels weird referring to this whole “IHOb” thing as controversial when I’d also refer to Trump’s new EPA Chief as controversial, but whatever. IHOb remains a touchy subject.
IHOP knew that if they did something to go against the grain, they would get a massive amount of publicity and media attention. And as we know from Kanye, attention is attention is attention, and it’s good for business. This stunt would obviously drive attention to their brand, would get them more followers on social media, and their name would bop around so much that they’d get more people in the doors than they would otherwise. Whether or not you actually order a burger is beside the point.
So, how well did this campaign work? Well, let’s look at the Twitter data: IHOP’s “mentions-per-million-posts” count spiked, having previously under 50 mentions to now boasting a whopping 500 mentions-per-million-posts, and successfully caused a massive shitstorm all over social media. I think it’s fair to say, it was extremely well done, and we all were mildly entertained for a week.
We still have to see if the massive increase in attention is translating to a massive increase in sales.
And see if those burgers are any good.