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IHOP’s Name Change Is the Most Obnoxious Brand Move of the Year

“IHOb” is a new wrinkle in the dystopian hellscape of viral marketing

IHOP’s new “IHOB” logo @IHOB

IHOP — the International House of Pancakes — has been teasing a “name change” for a little while, and on Monday made it “official.” The chain asserted that it would now be known as IHOb, the International House of — not Breakfast, as some people speculated — but Burgers. Since the diner chain turned the “P” at the end of its acronymic name upside down, seemingly the entire tweeting internet has been commenting on this change.

“We thought that people would have fun with this, but never did we imagine that it would grab the attention of America the way it did,” an IHOP representative told the New York Times. This representative clearly underestimates America’s minuscule attention span, which can be captured by the most brainless of online tricks at a moment’s notice.

Once again, we are all unpaid interns in the food #brands’ marketing departments. “Name change” and “official” are up there in quotes because IHOP did not actually, officially change its name to “IHOb.” It’s just a stunt to announce a new line of burgers, and it has paid off in a significant amount of free advertising (yes, including this story on Eater dot com). One reputation management consultant told CNBC that the stunt has resulted in “probably several hundred million dollars of free publicity.” Because, yes, all of a sudden, IHOP appeared on the forefront of everyone’s brains.

The company has seen sales declines for 10 straight quarters, according to CNBC, so it’s the first time folks have been thinking about IHOP in a while — or ever, really. As the Wall Street Journal reports, before the stunt, many people admitted to not knowing what IHOP stood for in the first place. Sure, the chain is getting dunked on, as they say on Twitter, but this is a prime example of the theory that all press is good press.

And hey, when there’s money to be made in the form of free advertising, brands are like sharks that smell blood in the water. One of the aggressors doing the aforementioned IHOP-dunking is Wendy’s, which has long worn out its online welcome and, of course, had a tweet for this situation.

Then there’s Burger King, which changed its name, profile image, and header image on Twitter yesterday to indicate it would be called “Pancake King” going forward. That the chain couldn’t be brought to change its actual Twitter handle indicates this is all just a farce. But, the entire tweeting (and blogging) internet is commenting on this change too, so congratulations to Burger King for cashing in on someone else’s marketing stunt with a corresponding marketing stunt of its own.

The only good thing about Twitter in 2018 is the jokes. Some are fresh, and some are years old but have aged so well that they are retweeted back into the timeline on a regular basis. Jokes are good and fun. Jokes at the expense of #brands acting like Steve Buscemi in a Music Band shirt are especially good and fun. Jokes in the service of IHOP and Burger King are simply free advertising for companies that compensate their executives handsomely while fighting wage increases for the meagerly paid workers who actually operate their restaurants.

Please stop tweeting about IHOP and Burger King.

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