I remember first hearing about it on the radio. Right before a commercial break, the DJ teased that IHOP was changing its “P” to a “B,” and that he’d have more in a few minutes. Normally, I’d change the station to something that had music, but I was curious. As a marketing and PR professional, I naturally thought that this was a massive rebranding effort. I wanted to learn more!

The internet, radio and social media went crazy. A few days later, when IHOP revealed that the “B” was actually for “burgers” (and sadly, not bacon – my audible guess when the DJ asked listeners for suggestions), everyone seemed to have an opinion. They talked about it – a lot.

Half of my social media feed was made up of posts with links to news articles that the big campaign was about the fact that IHOP is now serving burgers.

“How stupid,” one friend wrote.

And even worse. The really big news:

“It’s just a temporary name change,” one friend noted. “Not feeling this marketing campaign at all.”

Wendy’s, its Twitter mavens arguably the best on the internet, even weighed in and got in on the fun: “Not really afraid of the burgers from a place that decided pancakes were too hard.”

I personally thought it was one of the most brilliant ad campaigns I’d heard about in a long time. Here are a few reasons why I consider it extremely successful:

  • IHOP has a lot of brand equity. It built on that by doing a great job of teasing the campaign and not revealing the punch too soon. When was the last time an ad campaign got this many people talking?
  • The campaign was a home run because it accomplished what it set out to do: raise awareness of the fact that IHOP is now serving burgers.
  • Another benefit: Many younger consumers don’t even know what IHOP stands for, so it opens up a new generation to its core business.
  • And who knows? I would bet, for grins and giggles, diners will actually order a burger from the pancake chain because they heard about all the hype surrounding the sandwiches.

Today, my feed is all about what people think about Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un’s meeting. But for one glorious day, it was all their thoughts of IHOB – a genius marketing campaign, indeed.

-Meg McDonald