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IHOP becomes IHOb, with 'b' for burgers

Posted: Updated: Jun 12, 2018 10:21 AM
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When IHOP said it would change its name to IHOb, the speculation ran rampant: The International House of Breakfast, or Bacon, or even Blintzes?

But, as it turns out, the chain is looking past morning meals with an eye toward enhancing its lunch and dinner business.

On Monday, IHOP announced that it was changing its name to "IHOb," with the "b' denoting burgers. The change is not permanent, a company spokeswoman said, but rather is a move to promote its new burger line.

Known for its pancakes, the newly dubbed IHOP is releasing seven Ultimate Steakburgers as part of its rebranding effort - all the while keeping its breakfast items on the menu.

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Though the company has been offering burgers since its creation in 1958, IHOP's main motive for revamping the menu item and emphasizing it is to attract a wider audience, according to Chief Marketing Officer Brad Haley.

"The big opportunity for the IHOb brand is to develop our lunch and dinner business,' Haley said. "Burgers are the most consumed entree item for men, women and children in America," he continued, adding that "it made sense to start with burgers.'

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At the start of last week, IHOP hinted at changing its name in a tweet, flipping the "P' to a "b.' This generated a lot of social media buzz, as Twitter users guessed at the meaning behind the new letter.

While some people doubted the change would go through, IHOP doubled down late last week: The company both changed its Twitter handle and propped up signs with the new logo.

With this move, IHOP follows a recent trend of restaurant chains tapping into markets outside of their specialties. In March 2014, Taco Bell - known for its lunch and dinner options - rolled out a national breakfast menu. Three years later, coffee powerhouse Starbucks introduced lunch offerings in an effort to draw in more customers during lunch hours. And just this month, KFC announced plans to sell a vegetarian equivalent of its chicken to attract a new base.

"The whole goal of this effort was to convince people that we were just as serious about our burgers as we are about our pancakes,' Haley said. "Consequently, we needed to make a bold signal to disrupt people's thinking about IHOP and make it IHOb.'

Though Haley said he is optimistic about the outcome of the rebranding effort, some are skeptical of how successful the tweak will be.

"There are many other brands that are owning the burger space,' said Allen Adamson, a co-founder of marketing strategy firm Metaforce. "While strategically it makes sense to get people in (IHOP) after 11 o'clock in the morning, owning burgers is a non-starter for them. It's just going to be a disconnect to get consumers to (believe IHOP) has the best burgers.'

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