Guerrilla Marketing: Is the b for bananas?

JUNE 15, 2018

IHOP recently announced that they will be changing their name to IHOb (flipping the P upside down). After leaving everyone to speculate what the “b” would stand for, the International House of Pancakes revealed that they will now be the International House of… Burgers.

A bold, yet brilliant move. Bold, because not a lot of people eat burgers for breakfast. Brilliant, because it is an impressive use of guerrilla marketing.

Guerrilla marketing can be defined as an unconventional ad campaign that generates enormous social buzz for little to no money. Examples range from breaking a world record to creating your own holiday. But how does it work? And does it work?

It is important to note that all guerrilla marketing campaigns, like all marketing strategies, have a risk of failing. What worked for one company, may not work for you. In fact, it could backfire entirely. In 2007, Todd Davis, the co-founder of a fraud protection company called LifeLock, advertised his social security number to prove his company could protect him from identity theft. Todd’s identity was promptly stolen thirteen times.

There is a such thing as bad press. This is why primarily bigger businesses find the most success with guerrilla marketing. Successful companies can afford to step out and take that risk. The purpose of IHOb’s campaign was to promote their new line of seven Ultimate Steak Burgers which includes: The Mega Monster, The Big Brunch, and The Classic with Bacon.

So, was this publicity stunt a success?

Let’s take a look at some of the results thus far. One IHOb customer had only good things to say about his experience.

Reviews like that, are signs of a successful guerrilla marketing campaign because now consumers are praising a product that would otherwise go unnoticed.

Although, there can be some backlash-  people have been suggesting that even the critical acclaim is part of the stunt.

Other companies, such as Burger (formerly Pancake) King, tried to jump on the bandwagon, and IHOP got it right with the response. Their competition is noticing, and other major brands are wondering if they should adopt a similar campaign, or just participate as much as possible through association while this continues to create a viral sensation.

All of this attention only enriches IHOb’s campaign, exactly as intended, and we all know that attention is the first stage of a good communication campaign.

But was this media grabbing, re-branding idea worth it in the end?

Simply, it’s a gamble. The executives at IHOP knew that, and signed off on this stunt with the hope that it pays off in a big way. Ultimately what matters to IHOP executives is seeing an uptick in sales on burgers and other items, preferably as a long term growth strategy vs. just a short lived spike that eventually falls flat, or worse, drops off completely.  So far, the stunt has been successful at achieving step one: attention/awareness. Will this lead to a strong enough conversion from awareness to adoption to make a big impact for the restaurant chain?  That remains to be seen. And don’t forget that depending on the outcome of the next 3, to 6 months, IHOP executives will have to review the data and also ask themselves, “would a simple commercial have accomplished the same results?”

It’s difficult to predict the future in marketing, and IHOP took a big chance. So far the awareness stage is paying off and they have gained significant recognition from their customers, competitors, and marketers. Let’s hope for their sake that it continues to be a positive move.

One thing’s for sure, it did inform people that IHOP sells more than breakfast. Which is exactly what you thought the b stood for- be honest.