Recipe for success? IHOP says its IHOb stunt drove 'strong business results' in Q2

IHOP had the last laugh about its IHOb stunt on its quarterly earnings call.

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

People belittled, questioned, and snickered at IHOP’s IHOb stunt, but it looks like the pancake chain is having the last laugh, following parent Dine Brands’ Q2 earnings call this morning.

IHOP temporarily changed its name to IHOb – the "b" standing for burgers – in June as part of a campaign to promote its new grilled offerings. Not every customer thought the rebrand was clever, and other brands burned IHOP over the zany idea.

But now, the numbers are in.

Turns out, the campaign helped the brand reach its objective to boost foot traffic into IHOP restaurants at different times of day and increase awareness and sales of burgers. Burger sales were four times higher in the first three weeks after the launch and have remained stable since. The campaign was a driver in overall positive growth in domestic system-wide comparable same-restaurant sales for Q2, a representative said via email. 

IHOP CMO Brad Haley told PRWeek in June that "to maximize our full sales and traffic potential, we couldn’t only talk about pancakes; we had to talk about our other offerings." Hence, IHOb was born.

While the burger launch took place in only the last three weeks of Q2, the campaign helped drive strong business results for 2018, a representative said. In Q2, IHOP also held on to breakfast sales while growing the dinner mix. IHOP's domestic system-wide comparable same-restaurant sales increased 0.7% for the second quarter of 2018, according to the earnings report.

"Not only did the campaign prompt customers to consider us beyond breakfast, it reminded America of the love they have for IHOP, solidifying our place in culture once again and driving long-term results for the brand," said the brand rep.

The IHOb campaign went viral. From June 4 to July 30, the brand’s campaign garnered 25,000 earned stories, 2.1 million social media conversations, and 1.2 million tweets in the first 10 days.

Additionally, more than 100 brands and celebrities joined the conversation, and on July 9, when IHOb switched back to IHOP, the move garnered 28,000 tweets, a 1,300% increase from the previous day.

IHOP turned the attention into sales, said a representative, by hosting a VIB (instead of VIP, get it?) event and inviting press to try the burgers. The brand also tapped influencers to vouch for the new menu items.

"We drove trial with targeted online sampling and used geo-location data to attract new and existing customers," a rep said. 

DeVries Global, IHOP’s PR agency partner, and Droga5 worked on the campaign.

Looks like the idea didn’t fall flat as a pancake, after all.

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