A Day of Disruptive Marketing with IHOb

Today, if you live, or close around, the Greater Los Angeles area, perhaps you’ve seen this repeatedly played on every local news network, and by the time I finish this writing, this marketing campaign is already a media and viral sensation nationwide.

One of the oldest and well known franchised diner IHOP became the talk of the town when it decided to flip it’s acronym letter P to B, rebranding its name to “IHOB.” The diner, known for its variety of pancakes, first announced this publicity stunt on their twitter feed a week before today to introduce their new line of Ultimate Steakburgers.


After a week of teasing the public with earned social media marketing, IHOP unveiled yesterday their “IHOB” flagship location on Sunset Boulevard, 7 minutes shy of a drive from the previous advertising company I once worked. The signage that used to read IHOp is now IHOb, and as you walked in that was once a pancake house, is now fully reburgered with burger-theme graphics such as restrooms that are labeled burguys and burgals.

Before the unveiling, IHOP immediately posted their ad commercial for the campaign on their YouTube channel, and by now, should be playing on every local TV markets. IHOP’s Chief Marketing Officer Brad Haley explained that the campaign is to raise the awareness among the public that they also have different entree on their menu aside from serving pancakes and breakfast.

The advertising agency behind this campaign is none other than Droga5. The agency is known for exploiting local news network nationwide, then so forth becoming the primary focus on every media platforms. And it absolutely worked, the campaign spread like wildfire, from a social media post to every news disseminating IHOP’s new steakburgers, the rebranding becomes a catalyst to increase sales after falling 1.9 percent last year.

As I mentioned in my previous post, Droga5 is the agency behind Marc Ecko’s success, with Air Force One graffiti campaign. It portrayed Marc Ecko as a fashion designer as a cutting-edge, hip, and anti-establishment. The IHOb campaign is no different. Its main idea is to disrupt the public perception of the diner, confusing consumers, therefore, creating a buzz that then grabs the media’s attention. When, in fact, it is just a marketing model designed to exploit every news channel for free product placement. It is so effective and subtle that even other fast food competitors are publicizing IHOP’s campaign.

Marketers have turned to this tactic in response to advertising avoidance. So if IHOP didn’t flip the acronym letter P to B, will the public and media pay attention to their new Ultimate Steakburgers? Could IHOP secure a segment on the morning local news? Or perhaps its brand name on the landing page of CNN? Maybe, but for a price. But with content marketing, they didn’t need to spend a hefty amount of budget to promote their new steakburgers, all they had to do is an act to disrupt the consumers’ perception of their brand, from the international house of pancakes to international house of burgers, and let social media do the rest. Hell, now I’m craving pancakes.

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