• A Lesson in Viral Marketing from IHOP

A Lesson in Viral Marketing from IHOB

We all wish we could go viral on social media, and small business owners are no exception. How great would it be to get worldwide exposure from one simple post? You can’t control whether a campaign goes viral—the social media community makes that decision. But you can strive to capture attention and make an impact in unique and unexpected ways. This is also known as guerrilla marketing. In this post we’ll cover the latest IHOB guerilla marketing tactic as well as what you can learn from it for your own small business marketing purposes.

A Lesson in Viral Marketing from IHOB

The IHOB Story

On June 4th, the breakfast food chain IHOP released a teaser video of an upcoming name change from IHOP to IHOB that left followers puzzled. What could the “B” possibly stand for? In an attempt to revise their public image from a breakfast and late-night option to a mid-day and dinner choice, the International House of Pancakes shifted to International House of Burgers. Many speculated it stood for breakfast, brunch, or even bacon. But nobody anticipated it would actually stand for burgers. This viral burger debate has lent itself to a whole host of jokes, videos, and memes.

The IHOB Impact

IHOB revealed the secret on June 11, stating that this was just a temporary change. Regardless, the internet has been going crazy and chains from all over have been piggybacking on the popular story, further amplifying its virality. Fast food and restaurant social media accounts have been picking up on the social buzz and trolling IHOB—and the results are hilarious.


Burger King adjusted their Twitter handle to read Pancake King.


White Castle announced a playful name change.


Wendy’s, well known for their witty tweets and other social media replies, was also quick to jump on the bandwagon.


IHOP’s (IHOB’s?) potentially greatest rival, Denny’s, even decided to get in on the fun.


While these responses may seem harsh, the international breakfast chain got exactly what it was hoping for—a successful publicity stunt. While IHOP is fighting to change their eatery image, their marketing campaign incorporated some key aspects that produced a viral success.

How To Go Viral

While there is no way to guarantee a campaign will go viral, there are steps you can take to increase your chances of getting self-perpetuating buzz for your business.

Build Anticipation

The first step to producing a successful marketing campaign is building anticipation. In order to excite and entice your audience, you must first create suspense surrounding your product or service release. IHOP did an excellent job of this through a brief social media video that left customers curious.

Hype should be built over a period of days or several weeks. Allow the crowd time to imagine the possibilities. The less they know about it, the more they will think about it. IHOP posted their campaign teaser 3 times on Instagram alone.


Once you have created hype around your release, “wow” your crowd with a grand reveal and use multiple marketing channels to spread the word, such as through email, an in-store event, or social media. IHOB opted for all of these and more, including radio and television. The more channels you use, the wider your reach.

Keep Up the Momentum

After your marketing campaign has been successfully launched, don’t forget to keep momentum high by continuing to advertise. Keeping your customers aware of your product release will encourage them to try it, even if they were initially hesitant.

While competing restaurants have responded with sassy remarks to the name change, IHOP has taken these comments in stride. As the saying goes, there is no such thing as bad publicity.


Not quite ready for unconventional marketing? Stick to the tried and true tactics with our eBook below:
ThriveHive combines easy-to-use tools and expert guidance to help businesses stand out and get found online. Learn more about our guided marketing and advertising solutions here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *