Over the summer one of the most talked about marketing campaigns was the IHOb campaign. The International House of Pancakes announced they were changing from IHOP to IHOb and later announced that the “b” stood for “burgers”. Shortly afterward they admitted it was all a publicity stunt to help build awareness of their line of burgers. This campaign has potential for a couple of class discussions. First, was it successful? Clearly they succeeded in getting people talking about their company but whether it drove sales is more ambiguous. This article from the USA Today suggests it did not drive a material increase in sales. Another article from geomarketing.com indicates that there was an increase in male traffic but the net result was negative due to lower traffic by females.
Another angle to discuss is the ethicality of the campaign. Is it ethical for a company to say “we’re changing our name” when they have no intention to do so? Does this create a bad precedent or does it cause other companies to push the boundaries of deceptive marketing? How far is too far when trying to gain publicity?