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Humor in the Morning

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Barkley Evergreen & Partners uses a hidden camera to depict the differences between Sonic Drive-Ins and other fast-food chains in a television campaign touting its new breakfast offerings.

"A lot of fast-food companies are already firmly en-trenched in breakfast," said Brian Brooker, president and chief creative officer of the Kan-sas City, Mo., agency. "In order to get people to try something else, we needed to take this approach."

The television campaign, which broke in Memphis, Tenn., and Dallas last week and will be extended to other markets throughout the year, shows two customers at competing drive-thru restaurants. As they order services and products norm-ally carried by Sonic, such as flavored Cokes, an undercover cameracatches the reactions of employees.

The spots were shot over four 10-hour days in Arizona. The actors were cast from Chicago's Second City, lending an improvisational quality to the commercials, Brooker said.

"It's all as it occurs," Brooker told Adweek. "The humor comes out of the situation."

While the monthly special ads will continue to air concurrently with the new TV work, the two characters may appear in commercials advertising nonbreakfast fare, Brooker said.

"We'll see if they catch on," he said. "If they pick up steam, I wouldn't be surprised if they knock on a window of a McDonald's and ask them about dinner."

Oklahoma City-based Sonic spent $36 million on advertising in the first 11 months of last year, per CMR.