New IHOb name substitutes burgers for pancakes

New IHOb name substitutes burgers for pancakes

June 11th, 2018 by Dave Flessner in Breaking News

Updated at 10:14 p.m. on Monday, June 11, 2018 with more information.

IHOP, which teased a name change to IHOb earlier this month, says the "b" is to promote its burger menu.

The pancake chain has been coy about whether the name flip is permanent, saying Monday it was "for the time being." Pressed for details, the company would not give an end date for IHOb but referred to the "tongue-in-cheek name change" and said it was tied to the summer burger promotion.

The company, known for breakfast, already had burgers on the menu, but is adding a line made of Black Angus ground beef. It started using the IHOb name on social media, on its website and for in-store promotions.

The hints of a name change had spurred guesses on social media — and some disappointment Monday at the reveal.

The International House of Pancakes began more than 60 years and adopted the IHOP name in 1973.

When the restaurant chain tweeted about the name flip last week, people speculated the "b" stood for breakfast, brunch, bacon, beer, broccoli, burritos or even break dancing.

For now, the IHOP name remains on the chain's 1,671 restaurants across the country, including local outlets in Brainerd, Hixson, Fort Oglethorpe, Cleveland and Dalton, Georgia.

Burger joints, meanwhile, fired off blistering tweets about IHOP's change. "Can't wait to try a burger from the place that decided pancakes were too hard," Wendy's posted.

And Red Robin, which doesn't have a breakfast menu, teased: "We're as serious about pancakes as IHOb is about burgers."

Public relations veteran Eric Yaverbaum, CEO of Enricho Communications Inc., said the branding stunt recalls earlier attempts like "Pasta Hut" and "Fries King," and even Yahoo's 2013 "30 Logos in 30 Days" campaign. He speculates that the change "is probably little more than an attempt to build some buzz and publicize some new menu items.

"But messing with an iconic brand is always a risky move and has already generated a slew of ridicule," he said. "Which leaves you wondering: is the short-term buzz worth the potential of very real brand damage?"