Is IHOP the new New Coke?!

brand managementRemember the old saying, “The only bad publicity is no publicity?”

I think the marketing folks at the International House of Pancakes wanted to shake things up because they were a pretty dormant brand.

If you haven’t heard, IHOP stated they were changing their name to IHOB. Speculation arose that the B would stand for breakfast. Or bacon. But they announced that it would be for burgers.

What’s fascinating is how many people are up in arms over what is, essentially, a marketing ploy. Social media is blasting away at the idea. Fast-food burger joints and really giving it to IHOP on Twitter. People are shaking their fists, figuratively and literally, at this “bone-headed” idea.

And I think it’s awesome.

Back in 1985, Coca-Cola announced that they were changing their formula. They were going to introduce New Coke. And it was considered the worst product launch in the history of product launches. People went stark-raving mad over the thought of changing their beloved Coke flavor. Pepsi was very happy. In 1983, Pepsi was outselling Coke in supermarkets and was gaining on overall market share.

Do you remember what came of it? Coke execs admitted they made a mistake and introduced Classic Coke. And it was a hit when it came back. Sales for Coca-Cola skyrocketed.  For the past 25 years or so, Coke has been dominant in market share.

So, who was the fool?

Improving brand awarenessIHOP is doing the same thing. They’re not really changing their name permanently to IHOB.  But quite a few people think they’re serious.

And they’re TALKING an  lot about IHOP right now. A whole lot. On TV, on social media, at the work water cooler.  I’m even talking about their brand here, right now!

This is all free advertising for a fairly lame brand.

I used to go to IHOP as a kid. I remember their silver dollar pancakes and the 14 different bottles of syrup on the table. But I haven’t been in decades. And I’ve never taken my kids.

I certainly won’t be going their to try out their hamburgers any time soon. But I might just stop by again, for old times sake, to check out their breakfast.

IHOP wasn’t foolish at all.  That’s a lot of free advertising.

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