Sonic mixes up strategy with new food-focused campaign

CMO Lori Abou Habib explains why Sonic is stepping away from the in-car dialogues the fast-food brand is known for.

Sonic is pivoting to scripted campaigns centered on its menu.

Sonic is getting into the minds of customers who daydream about the fast-food brand’s menu in a new campaign, which launched on Monday.

The video spots are set to different jingles about new menu deals and items including a cheeseburger topped with chophouse aioli and fried cookie dough bites. They depict customers getting through stressful and uncomfortable situations, like a parent watching their child’s football game or teaching their teenager how to drive, by fantasizing about the new menu items.

Lori Abou Habib, Sonic’s chief marketing officer, said the campaign will run across any platform with a video component indefinitely.

The new campaign marks a departure from Sonic’s previous work, which depicted customers discussing their meals in their cars as they headed to the drive-in. Comedians T.J. Jagodowski and Peter Grosz improvised with burgers and hot dogs for over a decade starting in 2002. In February 2020, Sonic pivoted and featured other customers dining in their vehicles.

“We’re looking to shift to … the food being the star and the experience being a supporting role,” Abou Habib said.

According to Abou Habib, previous unscripted campaigns focused more on the experience at a Sonic drive-in than the creativity of its food. By pivoting to scripted campaigns centered on its menu, Sonic is trying to capture both elements of dining at the quick-serve restaurant.

“We had different storylines running against the food and the experience,” she said. “It’s not a different experience to the guest — eating on lot and the food itself. That’s all one experience, so why don’t we try to capture that?”

She declined to discuss the budget Sonic will put into its new campaign.

Mother Los Angeles, Sonic’s creative agency of record, developed the campaign while MSL worked on public relations.

This story first appeared on campaignlive.com. 


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