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Most effective and off-putting marketing campaign

Illustration: Alex Gomez· The Sentry

In June 2018, beloved breakfast restaurant IHOP announced on social media that they would be changing their name to IHOb, causing the internet to explode. While the name change was merely a part of an elaborate campaign to increase their business, it has proven itself to be this year’s top viral marketing campaign.

The announcement began as a video released by IHOP, showing the letter ‘P’ flipping and thus changing the name of the company to IHOb. Speculation began immediately to determine what on Earth IHOP could be changing their name to. International House of Breakfast? Maybe Bacon? Biscuits? Or maybe just Betrayal?

Following, IHOP, rather IHOb, announced that their new acronym meant International House of Burgers. They changed their menu from a focus on breakfast to lunch and dinner, ultimately changing the perception of the company.  No other viral marketing campaign this year attempted to re-establish their entire brand. 

In the end, the name change was part of a ploy to increase their business. The name really was temporarily changed to IHOb. It was immediately changed back to IHOP, with the ‘P’ with a new meaning: publicity stunt.

After the name change went viral, IHOP’s burger sales quadrupled. This marketing campaign caused nearly everyone in the world to know that IHOP offers both breakfast and burgers. An overall increase in both lunch and dinner meals sold at IHOP also showed a dramatic increase. According to Business Insider, IHOP’s competing restaurants only showed a 0.7 percent growth in the same period as the IHOb campaign. The name change spurred 20,000 articles to be written speculating the name change, and a whopping 36 billion impressions on social media were generated.

As a result of IHOb, all branding for the company has returned to its original name “IHOP.” Even after the name was returned, burger sales continued to prosper. Executives announced how proud they were to see such a public outcry surrounding the removal of the word pancakes from the company’s title. Clearly, Americans care about their pancakes.

Regardless of the company’s name, the IHOb stunt was the perfect marketing campaign for this digital era. The campaign had minimal cost and maximum shock value, making it the most successful campaign of 2018.

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