There’s the Beef

Meet the man who helped the Twittersphere explode over IHOP—or is that IHOb?

There’s the Beef

When the International House of Pancakes, home of “pancakes, pancakes, pancakes,” announced its restaurants were changing their name to IHOb to promote the chain’s new line of “burgers, burgers, burgers”—at least for summer—the Twittersphere exploded. And veteran brand marketer Brad Haley, ’80, MBA ’82 took a bow. Haley is the mastermind behind the company’s publicity strategy that began with a mysterious tweet on June 4: “For 60 pancakin’ years, we’ve been IHOP. Now, we’re flippin’ our name to IHOb. Find out what it could b on 6.11.18.” When the b-answer was finally unveiled, an insatiably curious world erupted in humor, marketing experts applauded, and competitors trolled. But in the hyper-competitive universe of food marketing, attention is the goal. According to Adweek, the chain’s burger sales quadrupled in the first three weeks after the announcement, and burger sales remained stable in the weeks following. “I think what captured people’s imagination was the gamification to it,” says Haley, who’s been the company’s chief marketing officer since August 2017. “We asked them questions: What would the b stand for? And people found that, I guess, too intriguing not to engage with.”

Brad Haley
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