IHOP Changes Name to IHOb in ploy to bring in more customers

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Social media was abuzz this week, as IHOP announced they would be undergoing a temporary name change to IHOb. In a social media campaign that has now gone viral, the beloved breakfast restaurant mysteriously asked followers what the ‘b’ stood for. While the most common answer was the very obvious ‘breakfast,’ IHOP (IHOp?) announced it stood for burgers, in a new campaign to show that the company is serious about its lunch and dinner game.

The classic A-frame pancake house is the newest aging company to take on a new marketing tactic to generate viral buzz. The plan consists of pushing a creative gimmick, aggressively market it via social media, and hope that it gains traction and goes viral among the younger crowds. Referred to as the “spray and pray” method, it is becoming more and more common in the the restaurant chain business, as they are continually faced with decreasing margins and heavy competition from fast casual eateries.

The restaurant is adding several new burger additions to their menu, including a Big Brunch burger with bacon, a fried egg and browned potato on top. The burger choices will range from a $6.99 classic burger to a $10.79 “Mega Monster” burger. All of the recipes have been completely revamped, with seven total options to choose from. “We are definitely going to be IHOP,” Darren Rebelez, president of IHOP, told CNNMoney. “But we want to convey that we are taking our burgers as seriously as our pancakes.”

Several IHOP locations are already getting new signs reflecting their transition to the new name. However, Darren Rebelez, president of IHOP, told CNNMoney that while several highly trafficked locations will be receiving new signs, the majority of its 1,800 locations will remain the same.

The name change has certainly garnered attention on social media, and seems to be working exactly how the company wanted. Brad Haley, chief marketing officer for IHOP said “We’re at the tipping point of where social and digital will become the bigger driver of awareness, sales and traffic for most advertisers.” Since announcing the name change, IHOP’s online mentions have grown exponentially, with over 362,000 since June 3, a far cry from the 21,000 it had in May.

Dine Brands, the owner of IHOP, also owns Applebee’s, another restaurant that has struggled with declining sales in recent years. Both restaurants have seen a 1-3% decrease in sales over the years, and have had to resort to what are essentially publicity stunts to attract higher sales. Although the increased buzz about the restaurant is certainly a positive thing, it is too early to tell whether this will result in a more permanent outcome for the company. 

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