Sonic picks Mother as next creative agency of record
Sonic Drive-In picked Mother to be its new creative agency as it tries to boost the brand’s relevance among diners faced with a variety of fast-food options.
Mother’s Los Angeles office will handle the account and the new work will begin appearing in 2020.
Without divulging marketing plans, Sonic Chief Marketing Officer Lori Abou Habib says the two guys featured in its ads will still definitely “be in the mix” in marketing, but added that Sonic is also going to “explore some new creative opportunities.” The pair, played by comics Peter Grosz and T.J. Jagodowski, first appeared in ads created years ago by Barkley.
Goodby Silverstein & Partners handled the account since 2011 and will continue to work on the brand through the end of 2019. Goodby, which did not participate in the review, has been a “fantastic” partner, says Abou Habib.
Sonic chose Mother due to its creative ideas, insights and data-driven approach presented throughout the pitch process, says Abou Habib. She also points to Mother’s retail experience, including on Target. She wants Sonic to become more culturally relevant, with marketing that does not feel “forced and overly corporate.”
This summer, Sonic has been running campaigns including one that focuses on mocktail slushes.
Mother does not have any other restaurant chains as clients in the U.S., but it has been the agency of record for delivery service Postmates since April. Mother London works with KFC U.K., where its work included rearranging that chain’s letters to spell “FCK” in ads apologizing for a chicken shortage.
“From our first meeting, the relationship with the Sonic team felt in lockstep,” Peter Ravailhe, CEO and partner, Mother USA, said in a statement. He said Joe Staples, executive creative director and partner, will lead the account out of Mother’s Los Angeles office.
Goodby and Sonic previously described their breakup as mutual. Prior to hiring Goodby, Sonic partnered with Barkley for 17 years. Sonic worked with Joanne Davis Consulting on the review, as it did when it hired Goodby. The review process included visiting each of the final four agencies that were competing, Abou Habib says.
Sonic, while not disclosing its results, has been “very pleased” this summer and sees itself as being “very well-positioned against the competitive set,” says Abou Habib.
Sonic was acquired by Arby's parent Inspire Brands in December and is the biggest brand in that portfolio, which also includes Buffalo Wild Wings. Sonic is the nation’s 13th largest restaurant chain, with systemwide sales up 0.9 percent to nearly $4.45 billion in 2018, according to Technomic.
Sonic continues to work with Zenith on media, VaynerMedia on social and digital, and Signal Theory on areas such as merchandising, printed materials and local assets.