If Dine Brand’s goal was to be in the news, then it worked. The IHOb campaign was featured on the front page of The Wall Street Journal Wednesday and there was a story in the Chicago Tribune about the brand's plans to open more restaurants in the city of Chicago.
IHOb or “Burger Gate” created over 8 billion impressions. Brilliant or a blunder? Eight billion impressions of earned media, which would have cost millions in advertisements, proves it was a brilliant move. Agree with the marketing play or not, IHOP is gaining national media attention, they have all of the burger competitors talking, and they reached their target audience. I’ve even seen pictures and reviews of their burgers already. Something is working. But, the real answer will be in their sales. Will their sales head upward?
Director of Marketing and Communications, QSR Automations
When looking to bring media attention to a national brand that has been around for a while, strategic thinking like this can truly make a difference in the public’s perception of a brand, as well as interest. It’s all about awareness, so it was most definitely a smart move on IHOP/ IHOb’s end to execute a strategy like this. Piquing interest and creating a grand reveal was brilliant. Creating a new menu category can be difficult, but it is exciting that they are looking to own this space and come into this new segment in a strong way. Regardless of the backlash and inconsistent response, it still got people talking about the brand on a viral scale.
Senior Account Executive, JS2 PR
I heard about this and don't get it.
As a serial entrepreneur, trying to be something that you are not can turn out to being OOB (Out of Business) decisions. I have seen this happen many times in my career. Fortunately not to me personally.
A new IHOP opened near our home, my wife and I ate breakfast there a few months ago, not a good experience!
Add into the mix that the burger business has exploded in the past few years with lots of new players entering this crowded space. Not sure how IHOP plans to compete. Doubt it will be on price due to dollar menus (I personally LOVE McDonalds Double Cheeseburger) and I am a really healthy eater.
I associate IHOP with breakfast, why not just do a much better job in their core business as they attempt to morph into something different, or change the whole name, or go to House of Pancakes and Burgers.
As a franchisor I am hyper sensitive to how decisions impact our franchisees—signage and things like this are not cheap. One hundred percent Black Angus is a big yawn. We grilled burgers last night, shelves at grocery store are filled with raw burger options.
Curious what kind of sales lift they will experience with all of this buzz and will it be sustainable?
Paul E. Berman
Brilliant marketing/PR move—for now. I commend brands that are willing to take the risk and step out of the box with their public relations and marketing strategies. In IHOP’s situation, it placed a struggling brand back into the limelight showcasing them front and center with this marketing stunt. While this tactic may not help increase sales or move the needle long-term, it was great for media impressions that were generated from numerous national stories and social media chatter on the company’s bold name change and burger launch.
Only time will tell if this was a brilliant move to actually impact sales.
—Durée M. Ross
President and CEO, Durée & Company
I thought it was a very clever promotion, complete with reversing the p to b, elevating awareness that IHOP has other dining segments besides breakfast and pancakes.
Our 10-year-old grandson, along with his electronic social network, knew about it long before I did and expressed concern about the possible end of IHOP pancakes, and is still talking about it.
And ... we would not even be talking about IHOP at all today if not for the catchy promo.
I sniffed out “publicity stunt” from the moment I learned about it a few weeks ago.
I also found it to be pragmatically creative—a simple letter turn creating a large-scale campaign that crossed into multiple layers of marketing—advertising, PR, social media, and more.
I take no issue with the campaign and find it to have achieved what the brand wanted, which was buzz. Now, I have read that the organization is hoping to spur burger sales as the measurement of ROI on this, but I think a brand awareness campaign is what this is and what the brand should be measuring—impressions, sentiment, media exposure, engagement, web visitors, etc.
There will be a bump in sales most likely for a few days as IHOb bubbles up, but I’m not sure this will create a long-term success for burger sales at IHOP. No doubt it has opened eyes to the brand and they should be applauded for that—the brand has become stale in many ways over the years and this refreshes it.
President, All Points Public Relations
I think its a bold move, and has clearly stirred attention, which will be awesome in the long run! However, in order to maintain the momentum, they need strong and unique burgers, which I don’t think they can provide. They look standard, and with "chain" quality food, they seem weak. They'll lose traction if they can’t perform!
Owner and Chef, Blues St BBQ Co.
I feel it’s a pretty smart/creative campaign to build awareness of this evidentially new burger initiative. I certainly wouldn’t think of IHOP as a burger alternative. I personally love burger-centric restaurants and now feel compelled to go check it out. They had to reach out beyond their base to reach a new demographic (someone like myself who would never visit otherwise). Solid move.
My personal belief is this is a great promotional idea. People are talking about IHOP. I don’t think it will work as a promotion of burgers. However, I expect the breakfast to increase over the next couple of weeks as people will have IHOP on the mind.