- IHOP is launching three new burgers that it's calling Black Angus Beef Pancakes, according to a company press release. The new pancakes/burgers join the existing burgers on the menu, which are described by the more common term.
- Only one of the three new burger/pancakes actually involves a pancake — the Big IHOP Pancake (Burger), where a buttermilk pancake grilled with cheddar cheese is sandwiched between two steakburger patties. The other two new menu items are the Garlic Butter Steakburger and the Loaded Philly Steakburger.
- A digital campaign to support the launch was designed by lead creative agency Droga5 and includes a Bancake List of those who tweeted negative comments when IHOP temporarily changed its name last year to IHOb — with the "b" a reference to "burgers." Consumers can get their names taken off the list by tweeting something nice about the new pancakes/burgers. If "haters" are at a loss for words, IHOP is offering humorous messages to choose from. A selected number of convertees will be rewarded with an unspecified "token of the brand’s appreciation," IHOP said.
IHOP's latest menu additions and the campaign supporting their launch are an effort to recapture the media wave from last year's temporary name change. When IHOP became IHOb for a short time, the move generated a strong reaction from consumers, both good and bad, and also helped boost sales. There were over 3.3 million tweets about #IHOb last year, although the brand has admitted that some "weren't very nice." The chain's burger sales soared four times after the temporary name change, and it resulted in over 20,000 media stories, 36 billion earned media impressions and social media mentions that the brand said reached more than 4 billion consumers.
With this year's effort, IHOP becomes the latest marketer to incorporate online negativity into its marketing as opposed to letting customer service handle it or ignoring the comments.
The chain also appears to want to recapture fans irritated by last year's temporary name change by directly engaging the naysayers and giving them a chance to have their names taken off a blacklist of those who made negative comments. The restaurant chain is also trying to engage — or possible provoke — the haters by saying it's decided to follow the internet's advice to "stay in its lane." However, it's doing so not by eliminating burgers from its menu, but by jokingly calling them pancakes, the chain's core menu item.
In another recent example of how brands are engaging online negativity, beverage company Vita Coco and its agency recently created an algorithm to identify the brand's harshest critics and invited them to a live taste test of a new item, turning the reviews — which weren't exactly glowing — into video spots.