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Has IHOP flipped its lid? Eatery gets grilled over rebrand

by | Jun 13, 2018 | Public Relations

After decades of languishing in a sort of brand purgatory, pancake chain IHOP decided to make some noise—and while it’s too soon to tell if the franchise’s strategy will flip or flop, media and social networks are certainly taking notice and sounding off. And that in itself is likely to pay off at the cash register, if not exactly a gold prize for “rebranding twist of the year.”

By using some pre-announcement teaser messages online and on TV, IHOP all but guaranteed that its news would rattle some chains. Everyone (including us) would have bet their bottom dollar that the “b” in its new name would stand for “breakfast“—but the brand threw us all an unexpected curveball by going where thousands have gone before: into the “burger“ business. Unfortunately, the big build-up didn’t generate the hoped-for payoff—more “oooh…” than “aaah!”—but the brand deserves credit for rolling the dice, even if it turns out to be a “New Coke”-style catastrophe.

Yes it’s true, IHOP is rolling out a series of new hamburger types in its rebranding effort, and hoping that tapping America’s favorite food will lead to a wider, more carnivorous audience. Although the switch is temporary, brand loyalists reacted with despair and confusion, while competing burger chains went for blood on Twitter. Check out some of these sinister tweets:

Has IHOP flipped its lid? Eatery gets grilled over rebrand

Has IHOP flipped its lid? Eatery gets grilled over rebrand

Has IHOP flipped its lid? Eatery gets grilled over rebrand

Has IHOP flipped its lid? Eatery gets grilled over rebrand

Has IHOP flipped its lid? Eatery gets grilled over rebrand

So what’s behind the rebrand?

IHOP has clearly been trying to get on the buzz radar for a while now, and following an “all you can eat” promotion that fell flat earlier this year, the brand’s marketers decided to take things a step further.

“Everyone knows that IHOP makes world-famous pancakes so we felt like the best way to convince them that we are as serious about our new line of Ultimate Steakburgers as we are about our pancakes, was to change our name to IHOb,” said chief marketing officer Brad Haley, in explaining the decision. “We’ve pancaked pancakes for 60 years now so it’s the perfect time to start burgerin’ burgers and we’re kicking it off by flipping the ‘p’ in IHOP to a ‘b’ for burgers.“

Of course, the brand’s long-time fans were concerned that those world-famous pancakes may have been jettisoned from the new menu. Come on now, the brand is feeling bold, but they’re not idiots.

Has IHOP flipped its lid? Eatery gets grilled over rebrand

Has IHOP flipped its lid? Eatery gets grilled over rebrand

Has IHOP flipped its lid? Eatery gets grilled over rebrand

When it’s all said and done, the brand could be truly reinvigorated with buzz and business. Or the gimmick could fall flatter than a … well, you get the picture. Either way, the noise is deafening.

And while we’re a little disappointed to see yet another burger chain pop up (even briefly), suddenly we’ve got a hankering for some pancakes…

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Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richardc@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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