Ronn Torossian
Ronn Torossian

Sometimes, the math can be all the argument you need. When it was first announced that IHOP would be changing its name and iconic logo to “IHOb” people were skeptical. Then, when it was revealed that the name meant the company would be focusing more on burgers than its main menu staple, pancakes, consumer reaction was split.

Some were excited. Others hoped it was all a gimmick. Turns out, though IHOP is proud of its burgers, the name change really was a publicity stunt. When that was announced, consumers and critics were unmerciful, putting the restaurant chain on blast.

As it turns out, IHOP may be getting the last laugh. After reporting better-than-expected second quarter numbers, IHOP is calling the IHOb PR gambit a roaring success. The big metric in question, at least for IHOP, was foot traffic in the restaurants, especially after breakfast. Sales and visits had been falling off, and the company needed a way to close the gap and stop that trend. So, instead of promoting its namesake pancakes, they came up with a gimmick to help promote their grilled lunch and dinner menu offerings.

Despite the loud consumer reaction, IHOP saw burger sales climb to four times higher than they were in Q1, and they’ve stayed that way. Apparently, once consumers got a taste of “IHOb,” they decided to come back for more, and to tell their friends as well.

IHOP’s decision, and the unique campaign that followed, earned the restaurant chain the best of both worlds: they maintained breakfast sales while increasing both foot traffic and dinner sales. Essentially, hungry consumers were both reminded why they love IHOP breakfasts and practically dared to try IHOP for lunch or dinner. Many did both, and that has IHOP laughing all the way to the bank. Now, it’s up to their critics to decide if they are laughing with them … because, at this point, it’s pretty tough to keep laughing at them.


Ronn Torossian is CEO of NYC based 5WPR, a leading independent PR firm.