IHOP's name swap to IHOb 'most buzzworthy' campaign in company history: Dine Brands CEO

Dine Brands CEO Steve Joyce on Thursday said IHOP’s controversial burger-themed press campaign helped to push the breakfast chain back to positive same-store sales in 2018.

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IHOP drew unprecedented scrutiny last year after it temporarily changed its iconic name to IHOb – short for International House of Burgers – to promote a new line of cheese burgers. The publicity stunt drew some backlash from critics, though Dine Brands officials have said the temporary name change produced record social engagement and a noticeable sales boost.

“IHOP returned to positive comp sales in 2018 and ended the year with a very, very solid quarter,” Joyce said on an earnings call. “The brand also took innovation to the next level, creating the most buzzworthy media campaign in its history with the Ultimate Steakburger launch. Additionally, both Applebee’s and IHOP reached all-time highs in their overall guest satisfaction scores.”

Shares of Dine Brands, which owns IHOP and Applebee’s, rose more than 12 percent in trading Thursday after the restaurant company topped earnings expectations and announced plans to boost its dividend. Already this year the stock has advanced 31 percent.

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IHOP’s same-store sales – a measure of sales at stores that have been open for more than one year – grew by 3 percent in the fourth quarter, while system-wide sales grew 4.5 percent to $863.7 million. The breakfast chain has now reported positive same-store sales in four consecutive quarters.

IHOP President Darren Rebelez told FOX Business that the name change produced “a few haters,” but also caused burger sales to quadruple at the peak of the promotion.


“We had 44 billion media impressions and over 22,000 news articles written about it. It was huge,” Rebelez said in November.