IHOP on Monday launched a new marketing campaign that returns the chain’s focus to its brand heritage of.
For years, IHOP has been working to convince guests that the chain is about more than just breakfast by beefing up offerings at lunch and dinner. But now, IHOP is aiming to “take back and own breakfast” in a way that leverages the chain’s core strength, said Natalia Franco, IHOP’s senior vice president of marketing.
“That is our heritage,” said Franco. "This is a campaign that really talks about the essence of our brand.”
Julia Stewart, parent company DineEquity’s chief executive, said IHOP has had success with value-positioned promotions, like its “7 for $7” menu rolled out earlier this year, which during the first quarter accounted for about 5 percent of sales.
Still, Stewart said the company is still working on finding the right value message for IHOP.
With the tagline: “IHOP: Everything you love about breakfast,” the new campaign will include value promotions, said Franco, but it will also focus on menu innovation and core items the brand is known for: pancakes, omelets and stuffed French toast.
In a report earlier this year, market research firm The NPD Group said breakfast traffic grew by about 2 percent in 2011 — in part because a growing number of quick-service competitors are rolling out or expanding breakfast menus.
IHOP is not giving up on building lunch and dinner business, Franco said, but trying to build on the chain’s breakfast offerings during all dayparts.
More than 60 percent of the chain’s sales overall come from breakfast items, not necessarily during morning hours, according to Franco. “Even at midnight, our breakfast sales are very strong,” she noted.
In April, IHOP rolled out new summer menu items that included new Simple & Fit banana and brown sugar oatmeal, as well as red velvet pancakes, sweet strawberry pancakes, and a whole wheat pancake combination meal, as well as drinks such as flavored iced teas.
In new television ads that are integrated with a social media campaign, IHOP attempts to tap into the emotional connection families have around platters of stuffed French toast, waffles and bacon — or “love on a plate.”
Watch the commercial; story continues below
The ads were created by McCann Erickson and include versions in Spanish.
Social media components include a Twitter sweepstakes, also launched Monday, in which guests are invited to tweet what they love about breakfast using the #BreakfastLove hashtag.
Through July 8, guests can also submit comments on IHOP’s Facebook page for a chance to win IHOP gift cards valued from $50 to $500.
Glendale, Calif.-based IHOP has been struggling with declining traffic trends in recent years. For its March 31-ended first quarter, parent company DineEquity Inc. reported same store sales down 0.5 percent for IHOP’s domestic locations, driven mostly by a decline in traffic that was offset by higher guest checks.
The all-franchised IHOP chain includes 1,554 locations in the U.S., Canada, Guatemala, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.