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Industry: Catering industry
Style: Minimalism

With America’s family-dining category struggling, IHOP decided to launch a new line of burgers to grow beyond breakfast and drive traffic during lunch and dinner.

The task: launch burgers from a brand known for pancakes.

But IHOP faced more than one challenge. First and foremost, we had to shift America’s perception that IHOP was just a breakfast destination. Secondly, we needed to stand out among other burger giants. In a country already saturated with burger chains, just getting our voice heard was going to be a challenge. IHOP’s ad spend was less than two percent of the combined budgets of brands such as McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s.

We needed to do something bold and buzzworthy to steal the burger conversation and get people to take IHOP seriously as a burger contender.

Describe the creative idea


How do you get people to take a pancake house seriously when it’s about to launch a new line of burgers? Simple. You change its iconic name to IHOb without explanation, awakening an entire country’s latent love for a nostalgic brand.

We knew that this audacious move would spark controversy and get America asking, “Is IHOP serious?!”

In the age of information, we wanted to do the unthinkable and keep the Internet in the dark for a week before revealing what the b stood for, unleashing a nationwide guessing game. Then, with the eyes of America watching, we revealed that the b stood for burgers, fueling an even bigger Internet meltdown than the last.

In the end, we harnessed America’s disbelief to ignite curiosity and ultimately, drive trial of our new burgers.

Describe the strategy

Although a beloved brand, social listening showed IHOP had lower sentiment with burgers (48%) than competitors Bob Evans (75%) and Cracker Barrel (61%) and that’s saying something. We needed to unlock America’s love for IHOP and channel it to our burgers.

The strategy: we’re as serious about our new burgers as we are about our pancakes.

We needed to communicate that we’re so serious about our new burgers, we’re officially rebranding as IHOb: International House of Burgers.

Our approach was designed to grab America’s attention and unlock powerful yet dormant emotions for IHOP in three phases: Tease the name change. Reveal what the b stands for. Sustain momentum to drive sales.

And since the core of the idea was centered on stoking a frenzy of emotion and speculation, what better place than Twitter as the hub for the campaign—the home of unfounded conspiracies and aggressive opinion sharing?

Describe the execution

TEASE: It started with a cryptic six-second tweet showing IHOP flipping its P to a b. For a week, we fueled the biggest guessing game in Internet history. Polls and 1:1 banter stoked the fire. Real-time social listening told us when to make our next move. When skepticism rose, we responded by changing our Twitter handle to @IHOb and leaking a photo of an IHOP restaurant changing its signage.

REVEAL: After a week of anticipation, we revealed that the b stood for BURGERS! We seized the moment by flipping everything—our social channels, search, Wikipedia—even IHOP LinkedIn bios.

SUSTAIN: Over several weeks, we capitalized on the buzz to pull people through the funnel. We sourced testimonials to create a new TV spot and intercepted competitors’ guests to offer them free IHOb burgers.

End-to-end social allowed us to become conductors of the cultivated chaos that was the IHOb phenomenon.

List the results

IHOb went viral and became a cultural phenomenon, generating 1.2M tweets in the first 10 days (including tweets from Chrissy Teigen, Stephen Colbert, Diplo, Questlove and Cardi B).

It garnered 28,000+ media stories, $113+ million in earned media value—11x ROI—and over 42.5 billion earned impressions. It trended at #1, #2 and #4 simultaneously on Twitter, even out-trending the Trump North Korea Summit and Net Neutrality Rulings. IHOP took the category lead in social SOV and has held it since.

We dramatically increased IHOP’s perception for “having great burgers” from 41% to 51%, catapulting IHOP from last to second place among competitors. IHOP quadrupled burger sales during the first month following the campaign launch and sustained 2x lunch and dinner sales through end of year.

The campaign paid dividends beyond IHOb, with 2x word-of-mouth and 80% increase (25%-45%) in ad awareness (via YouGov’s BrandIndex).
Production Company:
Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2019
Silver Mobile
Content for User Engagement
Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2019
Silver PR
D&AD 2019
Wood Pencil Integrated
Earned Media/Large Business (over 500 employees)
D&AD 2019
Wood Pencil PR
Product Launch
D&AD 2019
Shortlist Digital Marketing
Use of Social Media
The One Show 2019
Silver Pencil Social Media
Social Post / Single
The One Show 2019
Silver Pencil Social Media
Social Engagement / Stunts & Activations
The One Show 2019
Bronze Pencil Public Relations
Events & Experiential
The One Show 2019
Merit Public Relations
Integrated PR Campaign
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