Imagine getting your top competitors to announce a new product for you….

The human brain is incredibly lazy. It has so much information to process that it will do whatever it can to simplify and quickly come to a conclusion. The best thing about these lazy brain quirks is that you can consciously know them, study them, even deploy them against others, and they will still effect you.

If you design something that bypasses the frontal lobe then strategy goes out the window. There’s a studied medical condition where those with certain frontal lobe injuries lose their strategic ability.

Case in point, the IHOB campaign. This simple stunt bypassed the social media managers logical and strategic minds, sent them into “I must respond!” autopilot, and they began tweeting… on their competitors behalf. Can you imagine doing that if you took a few hours to really analyze what was going on?

In celebration of the lazy human brain, and to allow its autopilot effects to take hold of me, here are the top three reasons why the IHOB campaign was brilliant.

1.  The campaign was a successful deployment of a frontal lobe avoidance. IHOP was king troll for the week. I don’t think most people realized then (and likely anyone outside the industry still doesn’t realize) that this campaign was a stunt. The name change was temporary and only at a few stores. But that didn’t matter. The name change was dramatic. Strange.

Humans love to gossip and that need to gossip overrode any strategic thinking around ‘why’. The world couldn’t help themselves but talk about the campaign, and this generated free media on an epic scale.

2.  The frontal lobe avoidance hit their competitors the hardest. I can picture the impromptu meeting at a national burger chain. A social media manager, doing their morning rounds, sees the first signs of the name change. They rush to tell their director about what just happened. Certainly most such chains have a be witty and of the moment directive for their social, so there was no time to think strategically.  Respond fast, bold and free!

The result? The big burger boys announced to all of their fans that IHOP sells burgers. There’s not enough money in the world to get them to do this otherwise. It was the ultimate trojan horse. 

3. Which leads us to the third and most important win for IHOP. You now know IHOP sells burgers. The stunt got national media coverage. Imagine the millions of conversations that night when husbands, wives and children all got home… “Did you hear?”.

Despite the fact that most of those conversations likely revolved around how dumb the name change was, the message was implanted. America now knows that IHOP sells burgers. Even a 0.1% conversion rate on that new awareness will be a huge sales lift.

Did IHOP know they’d be this successful? Were they consciously utilizing this frontal lobe bypassing trojan horse? Perhaps, but the beauty of the technique is that it doesn’t matter.

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