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EMAILED ON June 12, 2018 BY Conor Grant

IHOb proves marketing hoaxes work better than ever in the age of social media 

Eight days ago, IHOP announced plans to flip the ‘P’ in its name to a ‘B’ — and for a week the internet exploded with criticism, frustration, and guessing. 

B for what? Breakfast? Breakdancing? Bitcoin?

Yesterday the iconic 60-year-old pancake brand finally revealed the answer: Burgers. More importantly, IHOP revealed it was all a stunt. 

Turns out you CAN teach an old business new branding

IHOP’s brand name was a blessing that became a curse — the company was so synonymous with breakfast that it had trouble selling lunch and dinner.

So, when stagnant sales forced the chain’s parent to close 30+ branches, IHOP’s marketing department needed a way to remind loyal breakfasters that it served more than just ’cakes. 

Enter IHOb: A video announcing (but not explaining) plans to change the brand’s famous name.

Everyone from Chrissy Teigen to Wendy’s had thoughts…

Exactly as the company hoped. The brand posted the announcement on Twitter, then stoked the fires of social media indignation with a quiz prompting users to guess “what could it b?”

As varied reactions rolled in, IHOP bantered with celebrities, pro sports teams and news outlets, firing off quips like, “the blot thickens.”

But, engagement numbers don’t lie. By the time of the burger’s reveal, the original video had racked up 6m+ views and been shared thousands of times.

Publicity stunts: Good refreshers for big brands

Remember the “The Artist formerly known as Prince” stunt? Or the “accidentally” risque photo of Marilyn Monroe’s billowing skirt (which was choreographed)? If so, you’re proof that PR stunts make an impression.

Like IHOP, Prince and Monroe were already well-known — but the fakery went a long, memorable way. Now, in the viral vortex of social media, a hoax (AKA a “lie” or “marketing strategy”) goes even longer.

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