IHOP knew it would have to do something bold to get consumers to pay attention to the launch of its better-burger menu.
What the breakfast-centric midscale chain did not foresee, however, was the tremendous flood of responses that would come after announcing it’s temporarily changing its name to IHOb to reflect the new items.
“None of us could’ve predicted it would go like this,” says IHOP President Darren Rebelez, wearing a hamburger lapel pin, during a visit to the Restaurant Business office this week for a wide-ranging discussion about the 60-year-old brand.
“We knew, because we were so well-known for breakfast, it was going to be difficult for us to tell the world we were doing something different and really get any attention or traction,” Rebelez says. “Unless we were going to do something bold. And there’s nothing we could think of to be more bold and creative and fun than to take that ‘P’ and flip it up into a ‘b,’ and let’s see what people say.”
People, it turns out, had plenty to say about IHOb, according to Rebelez:
- As of Wednesday, 15,000 news stories had been written about the burger rollout.
- 1.2 million tweets were sent on the topic, topping out at one point at 86,000 tweets per hour.
- Despite major national and international news, the campaign took three of the top trending spots on Twitter on Monday, with references to IHOP, IHOb and International House.
- What’s more, 80% of traffic to IHOP’s website during the period came from new users.
People are talking about IHOb, but is the massive engagement translating into burger sales?
“The answer is it’s going very well,” Rebelez says. “And that’s about all I can say about that.”
The burgers are now a part of IHOP’s permanent menu. The IHOb name, however, is for a limited time.
“Our initial thought on the campaign was we were going to do that about 60 days. But we’re going to let this play out and see how it goes,” he says. “We’re always going to be IHOP. We’re always going to have delicious pancakes and really decadent breakfast foods. But, for the time being, we’re going to be IHOb and sell as many burgers as we can and get the whole country engaged in that.”