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IHOP last week suggested something with a “b” would be coming, jokingly flipping its logo to read “IHOb” ahead of a big update. IHOP’s pancakes aren’t going anywhere, but the chain does hope to sell more burgers—which it’s actually had on the menu since its start in 1958.

“One of the very first things we did was to gauge people’s awareness of burgers at IHOP,” says Chief Marketing Officer Brad Haley. “The awareness was low, quite low, I’d say.”

Now IHOP wants to serve burgers good enough that people might actually think about coming in for more than just pancakes, at any time of the day.

“Even though we’ve had them forever, they just were clearly not top of mind,” says Haley.

He joined IHOP last summer after more than a dozen years as CMO of CKE, the parent of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, so he knows a bit about burgers.

“For us to make a credible statement around burgers, we had to not just make a better burger, but make the best one we could come up with,” he says.

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With free birthday breakfast meals and all-you-can-eat riblets, t​​​​he IHOP and Applebee’s restaurant chains became a traditional stop for millions of American families seeking a feast.

applebees ihop screenchowBut casual dining restaurants began to lose their appeal for millennial-generation foodies, and in 2016, Applebee’s tried to update its image.

The restaurant got rid of its signature riblets and other items and introduced more upscale options, including steak cooked on wood grills that were newly installed in restaurants. The move quickly backfired. In the first three months of 2017, Applebee’s’ same-store sales — sales at restaurants open at least 18 months, a key measure of performance — dropped 7.9% from a year earlier, said Stephen Anderson, a Maxim Group analyst who focuses on casual dining restaurants.

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IHOP saw a 2.1% decrease in same-store sales that quarter, which reflected the slump overall at fast-casual restaurants. And the numbers kept slipping. “We lost a little relevance with our customers,” said Stephen P. Joyce, chief executive of DineEquity Inc., the Glendale company that owns IHOP and Applebee’s. “We forgot what the customer expects from us and got a wake-up call.” Joyce, who joined the company in September after a decade leading Choice Hotels, has a plan to turn the business around over five years.

The company is adding technology to make ordering more convenient, Joyce said, and is paying more attention to “off-premise dining,” — that is, takeout orders, often handled by food-delivery services.

DineEquity also wants to expand by acquiring other restaurants, particularly in the fast-casual segment. To reflect the effort, DineEquity Inc. changed its name Tuesday to Dine Brands Global Inc.

DineEquity and the rest of the casual-dining segment of the industry has had a difficult couple of years, partly because restaurant growth has exceeded population growth and demand for those types of restaurants, said Victor Fernandez, executive director of insights and knowledge for TDn2K, which tracks the restaurant industry. Overall, casual dining restaurants suffered a 1.3% decline in same-store sales in 2017 compared with the year before while the bar-and-grill segment, including Applebee’s, fared even worse with a 2.5% drop.

Several casual dining restaurants also misjudged the market and implemented changes that scared off core customers, Anderson said.

Comedic Spot From Droga5 Shows You Don’t Have to Choose

Anyone who’s eaten at IHOP, and even those who haven’t, know it’s known for pancakes. The restaurant’s name, after all, is an acronym for its original name, International House of Pancakes.

Now, after an all-you-can-eat pancake push that ended Sunday, its moving some of the focus from pancakes to omelettes.

In the DineEquity chain’s latest work from Droga5 a man and his horse come to a literal fork in the road. The wanderer contemplates which way to go to satisfy his hunger, flip flopping between pancakes and omelettes. The answer becomes clear thanks to a gentleman off to the side, who suggests going to IHOP. After all, IHOP’s many omelettes come with pancakes on the side, leaving him no need to choose between savory and sweet. And, lucky for the hungry horseman, there’s an IHOP right there.

The “Wanderer” push is the family dining chain’s second campaign from Droga5, which IHOP announced as its new creative agency of record in November. Droga5’s first work on IHOP promoted the Jan. 2-Feb. 11 $3.99 all-you-can-eat pancake deal with a spot showing airline pilots replacing much of their usual preflight chatter with the word “pancakes.”

from Creativity-Online:

Droga5 brings some offbeat humor to the usually more buttoned-up IHOP in its first ad for the brand, directed by absurdist master Tom Kuntz, that features two airline pilots who can’t think of anything but pancakes.

The 30-second spot kicks off IHOP’s 60th year in business and focuses on the return of what IHOP says is its most requested promotion: All You Can Eat Pancakes for $3.99.

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The ad marks a shift in tone for the Glendale, Calif.-based company, which had been using more traditional themes in its advertising, including everyday moments in its restaurants. A campaign from prior agency Campbell Ewald, tagged “Eat up every moment,” featured lots of food shots, comedic but still staid plots, and voiceovers from actor Jason Lee.

“IHOP is a brand that’s always got pancakes on the brain, and believes that everything would be better if it were all just about pancakes,” Scott Bell, executive creative director at Droga5, said in a statement about the new work. “Knowing this was the mind-set, our priority going into this new integrated campaign was to capture this simple truth with three words: Pancakes, Pancakes, Pancakes.”

The “Pancakes, Pancakes, Pancakes” campaign will include 15-second spots as well as digital and social advertising, featuring content on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter throughout the promotion, which runs from Jan. 2 to Feb. 11.

“The love people have for the IHOP brand, and especially for our pancakes, was the natural launching pad for our new advertising campaign and the basis for its rallying cry of ‘Pancakes Pancakes Pancakes,’” said Brad Haley, chief marketing officer at IHOP. “The Droga5 team has had a lot of fun with it, and we’re incredibly excited to see the campaign come to life across every channel.”

Droga5 won the IHOP business in November, beating 72andSunny in a review.

MZJ director Kuntz has worked on scores of wacky ad campaigns through the years, from Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” spot to DirecTV’s “Cable Effects.”

See the spot on AdWeek:

Pancake provider IHOP has concluded a creative review and picked Droga5 as its new agency of record.


The all-day breakfast chain called on the New York indie agency to handle creative and strategy work ahead of its 60th anniversary in 2018.

According to a statement, IHOP has ambitious plans to expand its profile for the occasion by focusing on the online ordering platform IHOP N GO and opening a series of smaller grab-and-go locations in places like casinos and universities. In October, the brand’s first post-security airport outlet opened in Dallas/Fort Worth International.

“With their impressive work and credentials, we could not think of a better agency partner than Droga5 to help us celebrate 60 years of breakfast leadership and to kick off our most exciting year yet,” said CMO Brad Haley, who moved over from Carl’s Jr. parent company CKE Restaurants in August, in a statment.

The final round of the review saw Droga5 face off against 72andSunny for an account that had been with Campbell Ewald. IHOP’s agency roster also currently includes brand-experience firm Blacktop Creative, DeVries Global on PR, MRM//McCann on digital and Initiative handling media.

The first campaign of the new partnership will launch in early 2018, with Droga5’s work “including TV and radio initiatives,” according to IHOP. Both the client and the agency declined to elaborate.

“People love the cult of IHOP as much as they love pancakes,” said Droga5 global chief strategy officer Jonny Bauer. “[Haley] has paved the way for breakthrough ideas to be able to reach every tentacle of their impressive operation.”

IHOP spent just under $90 million on measured media in the U.S. in 2016 and roughly half that much from January to June of this year.

from AdWeek: