IHOP Burger-Boasting Name Change Sparks Big-Time Roasting Online

It has also resulted in sales that are far from flat as a pancake.

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Photo by: Magone ©Magone

Magone, Magone

Not sure what IHOP (aka International House of Pancakes) expected when it flipped its final P to change its name to IHOb.

The brand-new “b,” the world would come to learn, stood for, not breakfast or bacon, as some had speculated, but burgers; the company was adding several steakburgers (with names like The Classic, Big Brunch and Cowboy BBQ, among others) to its lineup.

Although IHOP had featured burgers on its menu for decades, the eye-catching move, teased beforehand on social media, was part of a rebranding effort to expand beyond breakfast and into lunch and dinner. (Don’t worry, flapjack fans; the company says its pancakes will still feature prominently on its menu.)

Starting with burgers “made sense,” Chief Marketing Officer Brad Haley told USA Today, because they “are the most consumed entree item for men, women and children in America."

As part of the stunt, the restaurant chain changed its Twitter handle and even, some customers noted, the signage in front of some (not all) locations, which presumably didn’t come cheap.

“The whole goal of this effort was to convince people that we were just as serious about our burgers as we are about our pancakes,” Haley told USA Today. “Consequently, we needed to make a bold signal to disrupt people’s thinking about IHOP and make it IHOb.”

The backlash to the disruption was equally big and bold. Rival restaurants, especially, had a field day poking fun at IHOP (er … IHOb) on social media.

“Remember when you were like 7 and thought changing your name to Thunder BearSword would be super cool? Like that, but our cheeseburgers are still better,” Wendy’s tweeted.

And then Wendy’s followed with another jab: “Can't wait to try a burger from the place that decided pancakes were too hard.

“We don’t want any beef with you, we just want to share our beef with the world,” IHOb wrote in response, prompting Wendy’s to relax its stance and strike a more welcoming tone.

But Wendy’s was far from the only fast-food chain throwing shade IHOb’s way.

“We are excited to announce that we will be switching our name to Pancake Castle,” wrote White Castle.

“As much as we love our pancakes, we'd never change our name to Whatapancake,” mused Whataburger.

A&W flipped its logo upside down and quipped, “Inspired by the International House of Burgers announcement, we are also changing our name (Please do not ask what it means — we don’t know either.)”

“We’re as serious about pancakes as @IHOb is about burgers,” wrote Red Robin.

And it wasn’t just restaurant chains getting in on the trolling action. Other companies took part as well.

“We've worked really hard for like 100 years to get people to remember our brand name so if it's cool with everyone we're just going to stick with MoonPie thank you,” MoonPie tweeted.

PopTarts took a similar position, tweeting, “Dear internet thanks to everyone asking me this but no not every brand is having an identity crisis so I'm gonna stick to Pop-Tarts.”

But not Netflix, which wrote: “brb changing my name to Netflib.”

Netflib. Ha.

So how does IHOb feel about getting roasted so royally on social media you could fry a burger on all the heat? Pretty good overall.

The chain’s president, Darren Rebelez, whose LinkedIn profile now IDs him as the company’s “Chief Burger Officer,” admitted some of the tweets singed a bit. But burger sales have been brisk, he told Ad Age, and "the fact that everybody in the burger business is talking about our burgers and us, I think, was kind of cool."

No such thing as bad publicity and all that.

Photo: iStock

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