This time last year, IHOP created a ton of buzz on social media by changing its name – temporarily – to IHOb to promote its burgers.
Now, the Glendale, California-based chain has taken to calling the newest editions to its burgers line-up “pancakes.”
The trio of new menu items – black angus beef pancakes – are the Big IHOP Pancake (Burger), which actually includes a traditional pancake between the meat patties; the Garlic Butter Pancake (Steakburger); and the Loaded Philly Pancake (Steakburger).
IHOP, which stand for International House of Pancakes, is calling its new vocabulary do-si-do “a playful twist that again shows that it takes its burgers as seriously as it takes it pancakes.”
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Here’s what’s coming:
- Big IHOP Pancake: Buttermilk pancake griddled with Cheddar cheese and layered between two steakburger patties, then topped with American cheese, custom-cured hickory-smoked bacon and house-made IHOP sauce
- Garlic Butter Pancake (Steakburger): House-made Gilroy garlic butter, custom-cured hickory-smoked bacon, white cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and mayo
- Loaded Philly Pancake (Steakburger): Sautéed onions and peppers, melted white cheddar cheese and cheddar cheese sauce
For a limited time, they’ll be served with unlimited fries, starting at $6.99.
The June 2018 name game worked because IHOP initially sold four times what they’d done previously and are still selling at double their regular rate, according to IHOP chief marketing officer Brad Haley.
“Those who tweeted something, shall we say, unkind last year may find that they’re on The Bancake List, an aggregated list of Twitter users who tweeted at IHOP to stay in its lane,” he said.
To get off the list, they must tweet something positive about IHOP’s pancakes, er, burgers, though IHOP has some prewritten options they can choose from. Some reformed fans will get tokens of appreciation from the company, though Haley didn’t say what those are.
The company returned to its IHOP roots the month after the stunt.
IHOP’s existing original burger line-up includes the Classic, the Classic with Bacon, the Mega Monster, the Cowboy BBQ, the Big Brunch and the Jalapeño Kick.
Rob Frankel, a Los Angeles-based branding strategy expert, said the success of the IHOb move was so great that having off-shoots of it makes sense for the company.
“It was a statement – ‘We’re wild and crazy guys, and that’s what makes it so fun and what you remember as a kid,'” he said. “That laid the foundation … upon which they can now base their subsequent advertising.”
Whether this burger switcheroo will be as much of a slam dunk as last year’s shtick remains to be seen.
“It will work just fine; I don’t think it’ll work as well because the burger thing was such a departure and a statement of identity,” Frankel said. “The burger thing was to plant in the consumer’s mind, ‘We have burgers here, too.’ Now, we need to sell the burger. It’s a different kind of an animal.”
Follow USA TODAY reporter Zlati Meyer on Twitter: @ZlatiMeyer