Well, that didn’t take long. International House of Pancakes, which spent years positioning itself as “the” place for pancakes for family breakfasts and late-night dining, pulled a marketing stunt last month and flipped the “p” at the end of IHOP to a “b” and started calling itself the International House of Burgers. Monday, the chain said it was going back to its original name.
Customers beat IHOP’s chops hard over IHOb, calling out the company for its trickery. Critics were merciless. Someone even tweeted a picture of o.b.-brand tampons, which uses a font similar to IHOP for its logo, and suggested a redesign because “it says, visually, International House of Tampons.”
The chain was transparent in its explanation for the switch back to IHOP in time for the special deals for its 60th anniversary celebration on July 17.
“That’s right, IHOP!” the company said. “We’d never turn our back on pancakes (except for that time we faked it to promote our new burgers).”
When IHOP announced the change to IHOb, it left open the possibility that it might not be permanent. Even company President Darren Rebelez said the chain is “always going to be IHOP.” (Get Across America Patch’s daily newsletter and real-time news alerts. Or, find your local Patch here and subscribe. Like us on Facebook. Also, download the free Patch iPhone app or free Patch Android app.)
IHOP Name Change A Phony; Twitter Makes Fun Of Chain
Customers said that all along.
Kent Sanderson suggested at the time IHOb was unveiled that there may be some genius to the strategy.
“In fairness, #IHOb is how it’s pronounced when it’s 3 AM, you’re drunk, and you’re asking a policeman where you can get pancakes,” he wrote on Twitter.
“International House of Lies” is more like it,” The AlphaGinger wrote in a tweet that began: “No IHOP, No! You had one job. One. All ya had to do was serve cinnamon pancakes every Sunday and everything would be ok. I don’t even recognize you anymore. @IHOb you’ve changed.”
In comments on IHOP’s Monday Facebook post, which featured a gif that flipped the b back to a p, followers debated whether the marketing ploy was a failure or a brilliant strategy that started people talking about the menu items that don’t require syrup — namely, its new line of steakburgers.
Michael Caples said he thought the switch to IHOb “was stupid, but it was not a fail.”
“It got me to talking about it and, heck, I even went and tried a burger,” he wrote. “I’m sure many people did, too. So well played IHOP.”
Nah, Javy Esquivel, wrote: “You guys aren’t tricking anyone. You guys made a really bad decision and ran with it; now you’re making it sound like it was a plan of yours.”
Joyce V. Morris pointed out that using “faked” to describe the marketing campaign “was not smart word choice considering our current climate,” but she was glad the original name was back.
“I would have more respect for IHOP if they just admitted they tried something and it failed instead of this ‘fake promoting,'” wrote April Kliers, who thinks the chain is “now saving face.”
“It’s weird how we changed back for our 60th birthday,” IHOP responded. “It’s almost as if it was planned.”
Photo: Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images