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The strategy was widely mocked on the internet but ended up being a very smart play

Tim Nelson
August 03, 2018

Admit it: you mocked IHOP (International House of Pancakes) when they announced they’d be changing their name to IHOB, which was eventually revealed to stand for International House of Burgers. There’s no shame in it, because pretty much everyone did back in June. Though you may have been hoping the whole thing was an absurd Nathan Fielder stunt, the attention it garnered was very real. And now, IHOP/B is laughing all the way to the bank.

That’s because whatever the hell you want to call the acronymed restaurant now, they ended up quadrupling the number of burgers sold during the fiscal quarter that the (thankfully temporary) name change was announced. It’s all thanks to the bounty of free publicity that swapping the P for a B generated: YouGov BrandIndex data indicates that a whopping 20,000 news articles were written about the announcement, helping to fuel a total of 36 billion (not a typo) social media impressions.

That means that if every single person on the planet had access to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, that means they would’ve seen “IHOB” pop up on their feed more than four and a half times. In reality, that means those of us who are Extremely Online were duped into seeing or even sharing what amounted to free advertising so many times that our brains were ultimately bludgeoned into submission.

Obviously, the burger and pancake bigwigs are thrilled with the results of their little stunt. "We think it was a huge success," said IHOP President Darren Rebelez to Business Insider. “Literally everybody in the world now knows that IHOP is now selling burgers. That was goal No. 1. Goal No. 2 was to actually sell them."

Despite their groundswell of ground beef growth, pancake fiends have nothing to worry about. While the lift in lunch and dinnertime traffic was a welcome boost, the international house of… various foods has no plans to ditch its breakfast offering. If anything, they may want to beef their breakfast up a bit (pun somewhat intended), given that same store sales increased just 0.7% last quarter despite the 400% jump in burger sales

So let that be a lesson to you: all it takes to be a genius social media marketer is to come up with an idea so simple yet perplexing that people have no choice but to do all of your promotional heavy lifting for you.  

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