THEY DID WHAT?
IHOP's recent "name change" to IHOb is just the latest in the grand tradition of marketing stunts — that is, when companies do something completely off the wall to create buzz, often for a new product or service. Marketing stunts aren't without risk: Hype may obscure a painfully bad product, but it can also overshadow legitimately good ones. Here are 25 times companies stopped at nothing to get tongues wagging and sales soaring.
IHOP FAKES A NAME CHANGE (2018)
NETFLIX COURTS 'GILMORE' FANS WITH LUKE'S DINER POP-UPS (2016)
BURGER KING PROPOSES A MCWHOPPER MASHUP (2015)
UBER BRINGS KITTENS TO YOUR DOOR (2013)
TROPICANA MAKES THE 'SUN' RISE OVER LONDON (2012)
RED BULL SENDS A SKYDIVER INTO SPACE (2012)
TACO BELL AIRLIFTS TACO TRUCK TO REMOTE ALASKA TOWN (2012)
MORTON'S MAKES A CUSTOMER'S DREAMS COME TRUE (2011)
CONFUSED.COM BUBBLE WRAPS A STREET (2010)
DR. PEPPER PROVOKES GUNS 'N' ROSES (2008)
LIFELOCK'S CEO GIVES OUT HIS SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER (2007)
KFC TRIES ITS HAND AT 'SPACEVERTISING' (2006)
SNAPPLE FINDS ITSELF IN A STICKY SITUATION (2005)
OPRAH GIVES EVERYONE A FREE PONTIAC (2004)
"You get a car! You get a car! Everybody gets a car!" Those words have become pop-culture gold and the source of countless internet memes. Oprah famously gave all 276 members of her studio audience a shiny new Pontiac G6, but the $7.7 million stunt ultimately did little to aid Pontiac itself, which shut its doors six years later in 2010. Audience members were also hit with taxes that sometimes totaled $6,000 or more per car.
GOLDENPALACE SPENDS $28,000 ON A GRILLED CHEESE (2004)
BURGER KING PERPLEXES EVERYONE WITH ITS 'SUBSERVIENT CHICKEN' (2004)
VODAFONE DEPLOYS STREAKERS AT RUGBY MATCH (2002)
VIRGIN ATLANTIC TROLLS BRITISH AIRWAYS WITH A BLIMP (2000)
HALF.COM BUYS AN ENTIRE TOWN (1999)
It can be hard for start-ups to hold their own against established rivals with big advertising budgets, so now-defunct books and music sales platform Half.com decided it was time to get on the map — literally. It convinced the tiny Oregon town of Halfway to change its name to Half.com in exchange for a package of economic incentives such as subsidized internet and a company call center. The town ended up getting only some money and computers, with other promises going unfulfilled.