IHOP’s marketing team seems to be very good at only one thing: Creating artificial and embarrassing brand moments. We saw that last summer with its failed “IHOB” campaign. And we see this today with its “Pancizza,” a new item the restaurant is launching in conjunction with the fake holiday National Pizza Day.
What’s a pancizza? you may be asking yourself. Well, according to IHOP’s press release, it’s “a combination of America’s two most favorite round foods–pancakes and pizza–in one delicious dish.” I’ll be honest with you: While I do enjoy pizza often, and I sometimes like a good pancake, I have never wanted these two experiences to be combined. Luckily, the pancizza seems to just be a pancake in a box.
Still, there’s a lot wrong with this campaign. For one, the name is . . . awful. IHOP says it’s pronounced “pan-keetz-ah,” despite the fact that it’s written like it should be called “pan-sizz-ah.” Either way, the noise that comes out makes my mouth feel like it’s stuffed with sawdust.
A slight digression I have about the name is that it looks a bit like “Cillizza,” as in CNN’s Chris Cillizza. While he probably wouldn’t want his name associated with such a bizarre culinary monstrosity, there is definitely a kinship between the two. Cillizza is known for making big hypes about nothing, as does the pancizza. Not to mention, the pancizza straddles the line between two different things, making an unsatisfactory hybrid–much like Cillizza’s melange of TV punditry and blogging. And, of course, both the pancizza and Cillizza should be consumed in small doses for fear of adverse effects.
Now back to the topic at hand: IHOP. To make matters worse, the company is aligning its brand with a beloved New York pizza shop: Bleecker Street Pizza. For one day, IHOP is opening up a “Pancizza shop” in its lower Manhattan premises. I sure do hope Bleecker is charging the breakfast chain a hefty fee, because it is probably doing damage to its name.
All this to say that we should state the obvious: Pancizza is just a pancake in a pizza box; it’s a PR stunt piggybacking on another PR stunt. And even the branding doesn’t sit right. Perhaps IHOP should have just done the world a favor and called the item what it is: a pizzcake.