Think IHOb Is Bad? Here Are 4 Other Brands That Tried to Change Their Names

The temporary name change isn't a new marketing trick

IHOP made news when it announced that, after 60 years, it would become IHOb.
Twitter: @IHOb

If Twitter is any gauge of consumer sentiments, the International House of Pancakes’ announcement Monday that it was changing its name to the International House of Burgers (colloquially: IHOP to IHOb) hasn’t exactly been met with a warm embrace. Granted, as many media outlets have ventured, the name change is temporary, merely an effort by the 60-year-old chain to stoke everybody about its new “steak burgers” amid flattening pancake sales. In other words, the switch is evidently just a play for attention.

Boy, did it generate that.

One rake quipped that IHOb really stands for the “International House of Bad Marketing.” Another observant consumer pointed out that the IHOb logo now bears a disturbing resemblance to o.b. tampons. Comedian Tim Young declared: “The first thing Chairman Kim and President Trump agreed on was that changing IHOP to IHOb was a terrible idea.”

The name change also left the door open for rival restaurant chains to get their zingers in. Perkins pointed out that it’s “been cooking up classic burgers for 60 years … no need to change our name to prove it.” And Burger King mockingly changed its name to Pancake King.

Say what you will about IHOb, the announcement did generate tens of millions of impressions for the company and no shortage of media attention (including Adweek.) So if the name’s clunky, the marketing’s pretty smooth.

How the name change will ultimately play out remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: the former pancake house isn’t the first brand to toy with a quick name switch, nor the first to learn how complicated that tactic can be. IHOb joins a list of temporary names to come out of corporate marketing departments in recent years. Here were three designed to get publicity, and one aimed at avoiding it:

1. Pizza Hut becomes Pasta Hut

Back in 2009, Pizza Hut generated some heat when word got around that the chain was changing its name to just “The Hut.” The marketing department’s idea, according to a story in Adweek’s sister publication Brandweek, was only to encourage the “texting generation” to use The Hut as “common vernacular for our brand.”

But the public freaked out, and The Hut (sorry, Pizza Hut) tapped out a press release to quell the restless hoards. “Pizza Hut is not changing its name,” it said. “We are proud of our name and heritage and will continue to be Pizza Hut. We do use ‘The Hut’ in some of our marketing efforts.”

As though one name change didn’t cause enough trouble, the debacle over “The Hut” came just one year after a previous name change. In 2008, several Pizza Hut locations in the U.K.—and one in Dallas, Texas—changed their names to “Pasta Hut.”

Ostensibly an April Fool’s joke, the gambit went so far as to change actual exterior signage. As it turned out, that name change was part of a broader marketing effort to promote the chain’s new line of Tuscani Pastas. As then-CMO of Pizza Hut U.K. explained, the name change was “a bit of a shock tactic” calculated to “get people to feel differently about Pizza Hut.”

But all of that was nearly a decade ago and, last we checked, Pizza Hut was still just Pizza Hut.

2. Budweiser embraces America

In May of 2016, as the summer Olympics, the America’s Cup race and the fall elections approached, many Americans in America were feel especially American—which is apparently what prompted Budweiser, the most American of American beverages, to change its name to … America.

“We are embarking on what should be the most patriotic summer that this generation has ever seen,” explained Budweiser vp Ricardo Marques, so it only made sense to slap that name on those cold cans, which would be on shelves only until November. Added corporate—some what unnecessarily—the America name was meant to “inspire drinkers to celebrate America.”

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