My two cents on IHOP
In my opinion, the IHOP name change stunt was ill-advised. The core IHOP customer is very loyal to the brand and will actively seek out an IHOP while traveling, making IHOP a destination in itself.
When IHOP introduced a mysterious name change, it opened a crack between itself and its core customers. IHOP was playful, but its core customers were reacting with confusion. Once that crack opened, customers will begin to analyze the entirety of their dining experience.
It has been said that all news is good news. I disagree when a brand is trying to use the viral nature of the internet. Brand loyalty is won through hard work, a great product, and customer service over time. Once you start the viral internet ball rolling, you lose control of its direction. The news generated can be of a nature that is helpful to the brand, or it can take a turn that is harmful to the brand. Hard-won brand loyalty can be lost at the fickle turn of a viral post on the internet.
In the beginning, the IHOP campaign generated a viral following on the internet. The campaign fell with a thud a victim of the very properties of the internet that gave the name change so much traction in the first place. The news had moved on, and the name change with its reason for the change would have needed to be earth changing to maintain any traction.
I would have much preferred an aggressive advertising campaign using traditional and new media without causing brand confusion.