IHOP’s #SongsSecretlyAboutPancakes Showcases Shazam as a Marketing Tool

Restaurant chain IHOP has teamed up with mobile recognition app Shazam to interact with consumers longer than it can in TV commercials, with its #SongsSecretlyAboutPancakes initiative.

According to Darrin Kellaris, director of marketing at IHOP, the promotion was inspired by a tweet the brand posted last summer in which it referenced a love song and used the hashtag #SongsSecretlyAboutPancakes. He says the tweet had a lot of traction with followers and inspired consumers to talk about the brand. That prompted other tweets.

In fact, one #SongsSecretlyAboutPancakes tweet with Justin Bieber lyrics had 233 retweets and 85 favorites, which IHOP says is 88 percent higher than its monthly retweet average.

The 2014 campaign extends the #SongsSecretlyAboutPancakes concept to Shazam, in which the recognition app’s logo appears in a number of TV spots.

When users engage with the icon, they encounter a playlist of songs IHOP says are actually about pancakes. That includes the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This),” The Pointer Sisters’ “I’m So Excited,” and Jason Mraz’s “I Won’t Give Up,” along with additional content like a restaurant finder and the ability to purchase gift cards.

According to the Shazam website, the platform reaches 450 million users, including 90 million monthly active users.

A Shazam rep was not available for comment.

“People who are tagging the spot are interacting with the content we’re providing,” Kellaris says. “The average engagement time after the tag is almost seven minutes. Compared to a 15- or 30-second spot that reaches the masses, we’re getting them to engage with the brand almost seven minutes longer, which is a big win for us.”

In addition, Kellaris says users listen to an average of about three tracks per visit. Consumers that want to purchase tracks are taken to iTunes or Google Play.

The brand released a second “refreshed” playlist after the first three weeks of the campaign. However, Kellaris says consumers are also submitting their own suggestions with the hashtag on Twitter, including Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours,” Led Zeppelin’s “All My Love,” and Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like the Wolf.” The promotion will run through the end of July.

According to Kellaris, the brand will receive an end-of-campaign report from Shazam and he’s looking forward to seeing data such as what regions of the country have the most engaged participants, which could help guide IHOP’s digital strategy in the future. He also says that even though the brand has a broad demographic target, he hopes the report will show what specific groups are engaging and which ones are not.

“I think, like most people that have a robust investment in TV and a broad reach in media, the challenge has always been that you can capture [consumers’] attention for 15 to 30 seconds, but, after that, what happens?” Kellaris asks. “[Brands add] a Facebook or Twitter logo and hope that people will get on their devices and engage a bit more or they add some kind of call-to-action, but it has become pretty routine and I don’t think people pay attention.”

Kellaris says IHOP believed the animated Shazam icon would be more enticing and engaging than other logos, which is why the brand went with it. So far it has found that Shazam has acted as a good tool to engage users beyond TV spots. Watch this space to see if its success continues.

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