Who won IHOP’s ‘lHOB’ rebranding strategy? Wendy’s.

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IHOP (its founder named it IHOP, so I’m going to call it IHOP) finally unveiled its new name after much teasing and trolling.

In a bid to grow the coin, the eatery set an aim to let customers know they sell burgers right along with pancakes with nagging social media posts and TV ads to match. The public was supposed to play along with their little guessing game to figure out what the “b” would stand for, but most of us were like, “Eh? I guess.”


Well, today, June 11, 2018, as they told us many times before, was the big day. Judging from all the positive engagement Wendy’s got, it looks like IHOb was as a major fail. Twitter user @DanTVMan’s reply, “This is a joke right?” expressed the public’s sentiment perfectly.

I know you’re probably like, “Why the hell do they care about IHOP?” Trust, there is a crucial personal branding lesson buried deep beneath this failed media campaign. We’re all about teachable moments, so here are five keys to keep in mind to avoid a similarly doomed marketing campaign.

1. Nobody has time for the stunts

I work in the news business and every year on April Fool’s Day a brand announces some identity crisis of some sort. These desperate attempts at garnering attention usually crash and burn. IHOb gave me April Fool’s Day vibes, but the roll out was soooooo slow that it wasn’t even funny. People’s attention spans are shorter than a matchstick and IHOP pushed this rollout to the limit. If you have time to run commercials for five days (this ain’t no election), the announcement is taking too long.  Just get to the point or keep it to yourself until you’re ready.


2. Don’t drop your defense

I’m no sports aficionado, but they dropped the ball. IHOP stepped into the arena all cocky like they already had the “W.” Yes, confidence is key, but having confidence in a surefire strategy is a major key. Before the CEO had the chance to announce the obvious name change, beloved social media darlings like Wendy’s and White Castle had several potential clap-backs lined up. Here’s the takeaway: Regardless of what field you do business in, you have to know the competition is fierce. Your approach is everything. IHOb’s campaign was all surface and lacked meat. (Pun intended).

3. Burgers. Really?

Seriously? Burgers? This was the earth-shattering announcement you had to pay millions in TV ads to make? There is nothing new or fresh about America’s most practical meal. Couldn’t you have just put out a few subway ads showcasing your burger offerings? Or just find better options for the ‘b’ — bottomless brunch, Beyonce, even Barack could have worked. Wendy’s and White Castle both hopped on Twitter and showcased why they sell burgers better than you.

4. Brands are having a moment right now — and that’s not a good thing.

Our society is admittedly reliant on having the ease of walking into a store to get what we want, but that doesn’t mean you can insult our intelligence. This isn’t the best time for brand trickery because we will boycott you like no tomorrow. See: Starbucks, Uber, and H&M. Not saying introducing burgers is a bad thing, but stick to pancakes. Please.


5. Know your audience.

The most important takeaway from this whole ordeal is the importance of knowing your audience. IHOP might have been in the dark about its fanbase, but they surely learned today. They got roasted by everybody on Twitter. Folks were talking about them like they do Love and Hip Hop.

Damn, well only one question remains: Are you headed to IHOb for a burger? Sound off in the comments.

PETTY UPDATE: Burger King is now the Pancake King. 


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