IHOB, formerly known as IHOP, has finally decided to end this national nightmare we’ve been living for the past month and change its name back to IHOP, surprising literally no one.

In a move almost as obvious as Lebron James leaving the Cavaliers for the Lakers, IHOP (which is what the restaurant is called as of press time) revealed that changing its name to the “International House of Burgers” for the past month was nothing but a cheap marketing scheme to promote its pathetic burger menu.

This whole ordeal has been frustrating for a number of reasons, primarily that no one believed for a second this was anything other than a marketing stunt. On top of that, burgers are an incredibly weak section of the IHOP menu and in the event the name change was genuine, it would be ridiculous to base something so important as the name of the whole chain around it. Lastly, and the most personally annoying to me, IHOP had a genuine chance to rebrand itself beyond just pancakes and turn that B into “Breakfast” which would more accurately describe what they’re about today. Was that obvious and predicted by everyone leading up to the “Burger” announcement? Yes, but that doesn’t mean it was a bad idea. It just means it was understandable and something consumers expected. But no, instead we got “Burgers” for a month and the whole internet let out a collective, frustrated sigh.

The best way to move past this dumpster fire of a marketing campaign is to learn from its mistakes and how to generate genuinely good content. Here are my suggestions:

Stop Creating Content With the Intention of Going Viral

This point applies to everyone, not just brands. There seems to be an overwhelming abundance of people that just do and say sensational things just to get attention/view/clicks. Another way to put this is “All Press is Good Press.” It isn’t! IHOP went viral the day it made this announcement but not in a fun way. Instead of just doing something sensational and wild to force virality, try just creating really good content and hoping for the best.

Start Small

Changing your brand or company’s name is a BIG deal. Huge. Which is what made it such an incredibly poor subject for a “fake-out” marketing stunt. It isn’t believable. Instead, start with something small for your marketing campaign and it can go a long way. Use a new hashtag, different graphics, videos, etc. Just avoid something so big it’s beyond believing.

Cut Out the Pranks

What the IHOP/IHOB scheme came down to was one giant “Gotcha!” on consumers. Which doesn’t really work. If you were a smaller company, and you said “We’re going to change our name and offer this product now!” and then a month later said “just kidding” it’s pretty likely your business would lose customers’ trust and money. IHOP is big enough that it’s going to be fine, but I’d love to find out if this stunt did anything to help their burger sales.

Let IHOP be a lesson to everyone on how not to do marketing campaigns, and if you want to read more about the right way to do them check out more of my work.

Making good decisions about your brand starts with a clear understanding of who you are as a company and as a brand. Use our Position Statement Guide to start the process.

Page and Lorraine spent some time chatting about this topic recently. Listen to the episode now:
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