Flippin’ Breakfast- IHOP’s Social Media Marketing Recipe for success

Flippin’ Breakfast- A Recipe for Success?

Flippin’ Breakfast- A Recipe for Success?

For over 60 years, The International House of Pancakes, IHOP, has been known for being a pancake house that specializes in breakfast foods – a branding setback that often creates problems for IHOP while competing against other restaurant chains with a wider variety of foods on their menu. In order to combat this issue, in 2018, IHOP launched a social media campaign designed to prove to consumers that they are just as serious about their other menu items, such as their burgers, as they are their well-known pancakes. While many bystanders thought this marketing campaign was a branding fail that would cause IHOP to go bankrupt, the campaign resulted just as IHOP had hoped by getting people talking about their brand.

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Marketing Campaign Overview

In an effort to increase awareness, foot traffic, and burger sales back in 2018, IHOP, the International House of Pancakes, introduced a temporary name change to IHOb, the International House of Burgers on social media platforms and at some restaurant locations. The purpose of this marketing campaign was to promote the restaurant chain’s new grilled menu items, a difficult task for a brand explicitly known for its pancakes and breakfast foods.  

Prior to the official announcement of the food chain’s name change, IHOP teased the idea on the social media platform Twitter by tweeting a teaser image of the new logo with the “p” flipped upside down with a caption stating, “for 60 pancakin’ years, we’ve been IHOP. Now, we’re flippin’ our name to IHOb. Find out what it could be on 6.11.18. #IHOb”, which promoted a guessing game to see if consumers could guess what the new letter “b” stood for. This marketing tactic kicked off the successful viral campaign by driving consumer engagement on social media platforms and created a buzz all over Twitter and other platforms. With consumers tweeting and posting their thoughts, opinions, and guesses to what the “b” could stand for, with the most common speculation for what the “b” stood for being “Breakfast” or “Bacon.”

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But, IHOP took the world by surprise when they finally announced that IHOP was changing their name to the International House of Burgers, not the International House of Breakfast or Bacon.

The Response

While the anticipation behind IHOP’s new name built up consumer curiosity on Twitter for days, nothing beat the response and reactions to the official announcement that the “b” in IHOb stood for burgers. In response to the name change, many consumers and other restaurant chains decided to capitalize on IHOP’s publicity by poking fun at what was considered to be a soon to be branding fail. But the brands tweeting hilarious comments and putting their own funny twist on the concept only brought more attention to IHOP’s marketing campaign, making it all the more successful. Chains and brands that assisted IHOP in this brilliant marketing strategy include Wendy’s, Whataburger, Burger King, Steak ‘n Shake, Chili’s, Netflix, Timehop, White Castle, Pop-Tarts, Moon Pie, Digiorno, and many more. Some brands, such as Burger King, even went as far as temporarily changing their logo.

Burger King
Burger King Tweet

While many people were laughing at IHOP for introducing the name change, it was IHOP or IHOb… who had the last laugh. This brilliant social media marketing campaign became a viral activity within social media users, boosted social media interaction and engagement, and successfully lead the brand to reach its campaign objective to boost restaurant foot traffic and burger sales. IHOP reported that their burger sales were “four times higher in the first three weeks after the launch and have remained stable since.” The marketing campaign created a social media buzz that lasted for weeks, engaged with their target audience, drove sales, boosted foot traffic, influenced consumers to try their new products, and was a driver in overall positive growth for the brand as a whole. I don’t know about you, but id say IHOP’s Flippin breakfast social media marketing campaign was a recipe for success.

Melina Miller

Melina Miller

Marketer Specializing in Digital Marketing, Marketing Analytics, Content Marketing & Personal Branding

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