Get Off Your IHOb High Horse
Your Twitter snark helped the burger campaign work.
DISCLAIMER: Both the president and the creative director at Ivor Andrew, the agency where I 9-to-5, think the IHOb campaign is bad. I’m publishing this knowing they’re against it. Will they fire me? WHO CAN SAY. Life is filled with magical mysteries, my friend. Let’s get started.
Bro. You can’t possibly be serious.
Oh, but I am. The IHOb campaign, in which the casual dining chain known as IHOP temporarily rebranded as a house of burgers rather than a house of pancakes, is a success.
Hang on. Who are you?
What up. I’m Luke. I’m a copywriter, which means I use words in an effort to get people to part with their money in exchange for my clients’ products, which they (hopefully) want or need.
The IHOb campaign was conjured not by the IHOP marketing team, but by an ad agency filled with copywriters, designers, art directors, account directors, and creative directors. A team of creatives at the top of their respective games. Who, if my one google search is to be believed, all work for Droga5.
Okay, so that’s how an idea like IHOb began?
Yes. When this project kicked off, the Droga5 team met with the IHOP marketing team. They exchanged pleasantries about the weather for a minute or two, then the IHOP team told Droga5 something along the lines of,
“omg you guys so get this. Our new Ultimate Steakburgers are sooooooo good but everyone thinks our burgers still suck like they always have. Here is an absurd amount of money. Please promote our Ultimate Steakburgers, thanks, love you so much.”
Then the Droga5 creative team put their heads together and word vomited initial ideas like:
OUR BURGERS DON’T SUCK NOW
100% SUCK-FREE BURGERS
BURGERS THAT SUCK LESS THAN APPLEBEE’S
Then a Droga5 creative director was like “Yo. Morons. Cool it with the SUCK angle. Here’s a tip: We probably shouldn’t make fun of the client.”
So the creative team was all, “Pffff. Fine.” and they got all cranky and refreshed Twitter for a while.
And then, like a flash of lightning, someone realized the ihop logo becomes ihob if you just flip the p over. And b, in case you were not aware, is what the word burgers starts with.
Eureka? No. Come on. Absolutely not. Did you SEE how hard IHOb got torched on Twitter?
Exactly. IHOb got positively owned. In what world is this work a success?
Let’s get one thing straight. I’m going to center it and make it nice and big so you don’t miss it.
The only goal of a campaign like IHOb is to scream “HEY. CHECK OUT THIS NEW THING.” at people.
That’s it. Awareness is the name of the game. To do awareness right, you need eyeballs on your work. And good golly, were there ever eyeballs on IHOb.
Wendy’s may have led the snark train, but brands and individuals alike could not WAIT to poop all over the campaign. As a result, IHOb dominated Twitter all day on June 11. At one point it was pulling in more chatter than the Trump/Kim summit.
Okay, but again, and I feel like you don’t care about this as much as you should: IHOb got destroyed on Twitter.
Let’s talk about that Wendy’s tweet for a minute. The witty millennials running that Twitter account (who also work at an ad agency, by the way) had a great joke lined up and refused to let something as trivial as facts get in the way.
IHOb is temporary. The restaurant is still called IHOP. As in pancakes. They don’t think pancakes are “too hard,” as Wendy’s put it. IHOP pancakes are hot, they’re fluffy, they’re delicious with melty butter and sticky syrup. As long as IHOP exists, they will sell pancakes and they’ll be a great way to stuff your face with more cheap food than you need.
Wendy’s, Whataburger, Burger King, and plenty more all lined up to take a swing at IHOb. The chance to score sweet Twitter karma combined with the fact that IHOP’s new burgers might actually compete. A quick twinsult was impossible to resist.
Ironically, the hundreds of thousands of retweets that the Twitter jokes tallied wound up organically putting IHOb in front of more and more people. Sure, we all had a good laugh in the moment. Fun was had at a brand’s expense, one who had the audacity to try something new. But with a slim-to-none ad spend, IHOb announced itself to the entire world on June 11.
That’s a big deal. It’s also a successful campaign.
And weeks, months, or years from now, when the jokes are long forgotten, you’ll be driving on the highway at 11 p.m. You’ll be hungry beyond belief and in need of a meal. You’ll see an IHOP sign. You’ll have a quick chuckle and wonder, “What was that Wendy’s tweet again?” The person riding shotgun will go, “OOOOOO, breakfast at night. That’s the best. I could go for some pancakes.” But not you. What you really want is something meaty. Something that doesn’t suck.
Something like an Ultimate Steakburger. Hang on. How do you know that exists? You’ve never had one before. Oh well. That doesn’t matter. Time to eat.
Nope. Never gonna happen. I never went to IHOP before, and I won’t go anytime soon.
Well perhaps — and I know this is crazy — IHOP’s target audience does not include you and your Twitter snark.
Over time, we will find out if the new IHOP burgers are actually delicious, if they compete with other casual dining options, and if the restaurant gained a bit more market share as a result.
The quality of the new burgers was not Droga5’s concern. Remember, the ad agency had one job: Let people know IHOP burgers are new and improved. Millions of people, you included, now know. All they did was publish some social media posts, update the website, and print some new menus.
Wendy’s did the rest.