The nightmare has ended. For one interminable month, pancake consumers from all over found that IHOP, long representing a bastion of fast food pancake joy, would be changing its name to IHOb, or International House of Burgers.
The pancake chain found itself ridiculed across all manner of social media, though most notably through Twitter, for this change. To be fair, IHOb was ridiculous; all the name does is remind people how stupid it sounds to go to a place called IHOP anyway.
Apparently, social media overreacted to this news because it was all a publicity stunt meant to promote their new burger offerings. They clarified on social media that the whole thing was a ruse, and what’s not to love about that? In a culture that enjoys stability and constant reaffirmation of its values, America should welcome a bit of a shake-up!
We’re giving away 60¢ short stacks on July 17 from 7a-7p for IHOP’s 60th birthday. That’s right, IHOP! We’d never turn our back on pancakes (except for that time we faked it to promote our new burgers) pic.twitter.com/KsbkMJhKuf
— IHOP (@IHOP) July 9, 2018
If you didn’t sense the lack of candor in the previous sentence, here it is laid out for you: It’s not clear why the denizens of the internet so readily believed in a name change, but to many, chalking a bizarre name alternation to the curse of this year makes more sense than an elaborate publicity stunt.
One month ago, IHOP began to tease the change on Twitter and try to have people guess what the “b” might stand for. Following the roll out, strong outcry came from hardcore IHOP fans (whoever those people are) and casual enjoyers of pancakes, worried that the change would mean that IHOb would no longer sell pancakes.
This confusion over whether IHOP would sell its most important (or at least most iconic) product speaks to the ineptitude of such an idea. The idea seems like a bad plan to try to generate business with a marketing scheme that makes people unsure of what you’re actually selling.
— IHOP (@IHOP) June 4, 2018
Others on Twitter expressed incredulity at the idea that IHOb was a publicity stunt at all. Doubting the truthfulness of the company’s advertising does make sense. Waiting one month for the big reveal on the marketing equivalent of an April Fool’s joke does seem like a delayed punch line. Many see the walk back on IHOb as a sign that executives didn’t realize they were making a bad decision with the change, realized it and then pretended that they didn’t mean it to avoid embarrassment.
More likely, the whole fiasco was a little bit of both Twitter theories: the name change was a publicity stunt, but one that resulted in an embarrassment for the company. The switch generated a lot of media attention for a brand that people don’t usually talk about (it’s just pancakes, for crying out loud!), but most of that attention was pretty negative.
Either way, the whole event shows how strange the world has become. It’s hard to keep faith under these conditions that the relative success of the whole campaign won’t make other companies want to try something similar.
Who knows, maybe McDonald’s will try it. McDavid’s? McSushi? Anything is possible at this point.