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July 26, 2007 11:26 AM   Subscribe

Parody is... also a sincere form of flattery, in the advertising biz. Sonic's ad agency, after a couple of dud trys at viral marketing to complement their popular campaign, decides instead to jump on all the parodies that people are posting on YouTube, then recognize some of the better ones, also on YouTube.
posted by dammitjim (55 comments total)

 
For those who aren't familiar with Sonic, it's a drive-in fast-food chain in the US (mostly in the South), which has carhops bring food out to its customers' cars, a style of eating popularized in the 1950's and featured in American Grafitti.

Sonic doesn't put their ads online, but a few of the recent ones can be viewed at the "their popular campaign" link above.

Also worth noting is that the actors playing the married couple apparently ad-lib most of the dialog, which Molly Erdman, the Second City alum who plays the wife, relays in this cute interview with a former school.
posted by dammitjim at 11:26 AM on July 26, 2007


I got tired of seeing ads for Sonic on TV.

"I don't live anywhere near a Sonic" I'd yell.

"That ice cream treat looks good", I'd say, to no one.

"Stop torturing me."

I drove 140 miles to a Sonic. This might have seemed like a completely idiotic idea. But I had a completely willing accomplice. I've already got a couple more recruits for the next journey. So maybe their advertising works. I'd started wondering if they were intentionally running the spots outside their markets in order to drive hapless consumers crazy.
posted by ninjew at 11:32 AM on July 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


Hey ninjew, Yvan eht Nioj!
posted by Mister_A at 11:35 AM on July 26, 2007


Anyone remember their older marketing campaign? During much of the 1990s they played up an American Graffiti cruising theme, with Frankie Avalon as spokesman. It's interesting that campaign is retired -- I wonder if that and the new ad campaign means "cruising" in the traditional sense is dead now and Sonic is just a place to get food.
posted by rolypolyman at 11:43 AM on July 26, 2007


ninjew > our family went to North Carolina for vacation and one of the things my sister and I INSISTED WE MUST DO was go to a Sonic. There was no discussion.
posted by Lucinda at 11:47 AM on July 26, 2007


ninjew, I can totally sympathize. Two years ago I drove out to California to attend E3. Or so I said. E3 was fun, lots of fun, don't get me wrong. But, oh, the In-N-Out burgers. My secret shame.
posted by boo_radley at 11:54 AM on July 26, 2007


I am five minutes-WALKING DISTANCE-from a Sonic.

Envy me.
posted by konolia at 11:55 AM on July 26, 2007


Their food is pretty good. Also good: Steak n Shake, a smaller chain in the Midwest. Here is an old-timey photo of a Steak n Shake, when they also still did carhop service. Note the neon sign saying "Takhomasak," a word that puzzled me throughout my childhood. It means "Take home a sack," you know, as in take-out, but styled to look like a Native American word, I guess.
posted by dammitjim at 11:57 AM on July 26, 2007


Closest Sonic to me is 20 miles away. Alas.

In-N-Out is pretty good, but nothing compared to Sonic.
posted by blucevalo at 12:01 PM on July 26, 2007


Cherry limemade, for the win. I hear tell that Braum's makes it better, but there aren't any 'round here.
posted by jquinby at 12:06 PM on July 26, 2007


You know what I like, is Vernor's ginger ale, but it seems like you can only get it in Detroit.
posted by Mister_A at 12:10 PM on July 26, 2007


In-N-Out is pretty good, but nothing compared to Sonic.

BLASPHEMY!!!!!!
posted by joedan at 12:11 PM on July 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Having supped in both Sonic and In-N-Out, I must submit to what-a-burger.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 12:11 PM on July 26, 2007


Despite the fact that I've been seeing ads for them for ages, I just looked it up, and apparently there isn't a Sonic in the entire state of Wisconsin.

Why are they spending money to advertise here?
posted by quin at 12:13 PM on July 26, 2007


I don't have a car so I'm gonna suffer.
Me: Hey! Mr. Busdriver?

(ignoring the sign that reads: Do not talk to driver while he is operating the bus.) The driver turns his head to answer and we crash. We end up in Sonic Heaven. Britteny Spears is on roller skates and she takes our orders. I get a transfer from the dead busdriver. As I am leaving he says.

Busdriver: You gonna finish those fries?
posted by doctorschlock at 12:14 PM on July 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


I used to live in a town with a Sonic. It was OK. 100% better than regular fast food, but that's not saying much.

Also, I totally remember begging my parents to take me to Steak n Shake. I think I was imagining they served Shake n Bake, which I also begged them to buy. (We never did either thing.) I still love the crunchy outsides of food.
posted by DU at 12:14 PM on July 26, 2007


There's actually a What-a-Burger, a Sonic, and a Steak-n-Shake all on the same block about 2 miles from me. No In-n-Out around here though.
posted by puke & cry at 12:16 PM on July 26, 2007


Why are they spending money to advertise here?

At a certain point, it is cheaper to buy national spots than all of the local areas they do business in.

I live within 5 minutes WALKING DISTANCE of TWO (2) Sonics.

The current cookie shake thing is delicious, but on a hot gross day like today nothing is better than a Rt44 Diet Cherry Limeade.
posted by birdherder at 12:19 PM on July 26, 2007


I actually just bought a 12-pack of Vernors a week or so ago. At a grocery store in the Seattle suburbs. So no, it's not just limited to the Michigan area any more. Which makes me glad, as it shows how horrible Canada Dry Ginger Ale really is.

Oh, and Whataburger is horrid. I ate there once on a trip to Texas with my dad. Both of us decided we'd never touch one again after that.
posted by evilangela at 12:22 PM on July 26, 2007


Steak N Shake is okay, and so is Sonic. Krystal's cheeseburgers were what used to get me going, though. I remember when one opened up here, I was six months pregnant, and it was packed, and I made my poor husband wait in a drive-thru for half an hour because I had this intense craving for a mustardy Krystal's cheeseburger.

MMMM.

You know who has the worst ads? The Checkers' Drive-Thrus.

Slogan? "Ya Gotta Eat."

WTF?
posted by misha at 12:33 PM on July 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


I drove 140 miles to a Sonic. --ninjew

Also good: Steak n Shake --dammitjim


I personally have to admit to driving 240 miles for Steak 'n Shake during college with three similarly crazy friends. They've recently (last few years or so) expanded out to Dallas, where I'm living now, but nobody here really understands why I make a big deal out of it. I guess you had to grow up with it (St. Louis)...

As for Sonic, you can't drive a block here without passing one. Definitely better than your average fast food joint, but not something I obsess over. I guess it helps if they're not convenient enough to burn out on.

Of course, the one thing I really miss is White Castle. Why is everyone laughing?
posted by Bugg at 12:37 PM on July 26, 2007


I would drive out of my way for a strawberry limeade.
posted by breaks the guidelines? at 12:41 PM on July 26, 2007


Oh, and Whataburger is horrid. I ate there once on a trip to Texas with my dad. Both of us decided we'd never touch one again after that. --evilangela

Were you drunk? If not, you're doing it wrong. Trust me.
posted by Bugg at 12:43 PM on July 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Steak and Shake recently arrived in Dallas, and my Indiana-born and raised brother has been deeply amused at his friends' novelty at it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:51 PM on July 26, 2007


So, does the fact that I live within about 10 minutes of Steak-n-Shake, five minutes from Braum's and within walking distance of not one but two Sonics make my position enviable? Does that fact that I am in the buckle of the bible belt change anything? You might have to beat some proselytizers back with a stick for your cherry limeade. They're thick here.
posted by the_royal_we at 12:53 PM on July 26, 2007


Cherry limemade, for the win. I hear tell that Braum's makes it better, but there aren't any 'round here.

Nowadays, both of them only use about a third of the limes that they used to put in them. Even asking for extra lime, and getting charged a fee, you just can't get the limeade you used to be able to get.

And get off my lawn.
posted by Quonab at 12:56 PM on July 26, 2007


when i was a kid my little brother's best friend was named travis. his mom worked for steak-n-shake and was the one who made up all the weird 'n kooky advertising. like the weird little voice saying "beancrock" at the end of their commercials - that was travis' mom. takhomasak!

(they also made the best damn vanilla malts ive ever had anywhere. is that sad? i dunno. they're pretty goddamn good. beancrock, not so much.)
posted by sergeant sandwich at 12:58 PM on July 26, 2007


Few things that I like more than quirky regional fast-food chains. Whataburger is good -- big, big burger and bun, and none of this mayo, ketchup or relish bullshit -- mustard and veggies. That's it.

I ate at Burgerville twice, the last time I was in Portland. Smallish burgers, but they had cherry lemonade. And they bill themselves as using sustainable, local ingredients. Many full-service 'serious' restaurants could learn from them.

Damn, I want me an In-n-Out burger.
posted by solid-one-love at 1:00 PM on July 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


Burger fans in Dallas looking for something new might want to check out Mooyah, which opened in Plano a few months ago. The name is stupid, but they serve a good fast food burger.
posted by erikgrande at 1:06 PM on July 26, 2007


SonicBlue.
posted by The Bellman at 1:26 PM on July 26, 2007


Dammit, dammitjim! I know you! For about 30 years! Check my profile.
posted by sourwookie at 1:32 PM on July 26, 2007


Sonic's ads never did anything for me, but I sure like their cherry creamslush. Mmm.

I grew up with Whataburger, Sonic and Braum's, but Steak and Shake is a pretty new phenomenon to me. Good food there, but I do wish their fries weren't those tiny matchstick affairs. I like a proper fry.
posted by angeline at 1:34 PM on July 26, 2007


When I was pregnant with my son (I lived in Pensacola at the time) I CRAVED Whataburgers. With jalapenos.

We don't have Whataburger in Fayetteville, NC. Sad.
posted by konolia at 1:54 PM on July 26, 2007


I second solid-one-love's mention of Burgerville. I love the fact that you can get real cheddar cheese on the burger instead of American cheese. Also, I like that they have hallibut fillets and hallibut fish and chips instead of cod or pollock.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:00 PM on July 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh, and I live 8 minutes away from a burger place that selects and grinds their own chuck in house, so you can have your crummy burger chains.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:01 PM on July 26, 2007


Quin, I'm with you. Though, compared to the one time I tried Sonic (Providence RI), there are far better local burger places here (Kopps, Bellas, Oscars, and even Culvers).
posted by drezdn at 2:33 PM on July 26, 2007


Sonic's burgers are pretty damn mediocre, but the cherry limeade and tater tots make up for them. I'll take a Steakburger, Double-Double, or Butterburger over a Sonic burger any day of the week.
posted by zsazsa at 2:36 PM on July 26, 2007


Any North Carolinian would tell you that Cook Our trumps them ALL.

Cheddar style bacon cheeseburgers and over 35 kinds of milkshakes? yes PLEASE.
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 2:42 PM on July 26, 2007


damn. Cook Out, I mean.
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 2:42 PM on July 26, 2007


That's all right drezdn, they can have their Sonics, we can rest in the comfortable knowledge that we have Leon's.

Suck it haters, we got the place they based Al's from Happy Days on. (food's pretty good too.)
posted by quin at 2:51 PM on July 26, 2007


Do I get to be the first one to mention Five Guys in a fast-food thread?
posted by empath at 2:56 PM on July 26, 2007


Oh god, they just opened a Five Guys in Brooklyn, and it's so goddamn good... they've gotten my order wrong every single time I've been in there and I don't even care, that's how good it is.
My boyfriend and I must be the last Sonic's virgins on the planet- we stopped at one in Virginia and just wandered in the door because we had no idea it was drivethrough only. The entire staff turned and stared at us like we had cacti growing out of our skulls. We had to hang our heads in shame and back slowly out the door.
I do not like things that are different.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 3:05 PM on July 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


There's a Sonic in Providence??? My kids are going to be thrilled. We ate at one in Arizona last week and they craved more for the rest of the trip. In fact, the frisbee that was came with the kids meal keeps showing up in our Grand Canyon pictures.
posted by Biblio at 3:06 PM on July 26, 2007


There aren't a lot of things I miss from the time I lived in Missouri, but Steak-n-Shake is one of them.
posted by Rangeboy at 3:24 PM on July 26, 2007


Five Guys has recently come to Atlanta and it is, indeed, THE BALLS.
posted by BobFrapples at 3:36 PM on July 26, 2007


Sonic burgers are only good on the half-price nights. The real reason to head out to sonic is for a foot-long chilli-cheese coney and a rootbeer float. Your choices of food suck.

I've emailed Sonic before about the unfairness of exposing deprived Seattle-ites with advertising for the unavailable nectar, saddly their response did not include a timeline for when sonic would make it out this way.
posted by nomisxid at 3:44 PM on July 26, 2007


Missouri boy here. Within a mile or less of a Sonic and Steak-n-Shake.

I'd much prefer an In-n-Out.
posted by sourwookie at 3:56 PM on July 26, 2007


Man, some people may think this town is a reeking cesspool, but they don't see the real charm: Chick-fil-A, Krystal, Krispe Kreme, Sonic, Steak n Shake, Popeyes, and a million BBQ joints pepper the landscape.

City not recommended for the weak of heart.
posted by absalom at 4:24 PM on July 26, 2007


I'm in Oklahoma, land of Sonics, and although they make fine cherry limades,I'd trade every last one of 'em for an In-n-Out.
Here in Norman, there's a similar drive-in establishment called Classic 50's. Many years ago, despite the fact this town already had Sonics in two other locations, Sonic put a restaurant in right next door to them. Impressively, the Classic 50's is still there today, and the Sonic just moved across the street and a few stores down.
posted by Dr. Zira at 4:36 PM on July 26, 2007


I was a carhop at Sonic for 2 years in high school. I live in LA now, and I want me some tater tots!!!!
posted by kamikazegopher at 6:24 PM on July 26, 2007


When we went to Iowa for a long weekend, Sonic was compulsory. I hadn't been since I moved to IL and the commericals were pure torture. I have also been known to drive to Wisconsin for Chick-Fil-A.

For drunk food, though, I dearly miss Taco Cabana. Oh, god.
posted by sugarfish at 7:07 PM on July 26, 2007


Oh hi Dr. Zira! I live in OKC - moved from Norman about 6 months ago: I had totally forgotten about the Classic 50's/Sonic rivalry that continues in Norman! People get really, really upset about that, huh?
posted by the_royal_we at 11:24 PM on July 26, 2007


We just recently got a Five Guys in Frederick, MD, but then I moved. Now I have a Sonic, though, so s'all good. Mostly.
posted by Alterscape at 3:48 AM on July 27, 2007


We have a Five Guys-haven't tried it yet, but I think I will.
posted by konolia at 5:23 AM on July 27, 2007


I will trade every Sonic in a ten mile radius from my house (that's three for those keeping count) the Bojangles and the Popeye's nearby for even one In-N-Out within 400 miles. I stopped at one on my last trip out west and instantly became a convert. Just thinking about it makes me hungry, so I'll throw in an old school Hardee's just to sweeten the deal.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 11:55 AM on July 27, 2007


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