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Sonic Tries All-Digital Campaign to Launch One-Day Limited-Time Offer

But it doesn’t replace TV

Sonic Drive-In's CMO Todd Smith

When it comes to social media marketing, few industries are quite as aggressive as fast food chains in testing new platforms. McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Sonic Drive-In, Taco Bell and Burger King all use a rotating set of social platforms to build awareness and quick sales for constantly-changing menus.

Now, Sonic is running a digital-only campaign to launch a slushy flavor that will only be available tomorrow on Snapchat, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter and Giphy. Earlier this week, the drive-thru chain began sending out somewhat cryptic social posts about the limited-time offer. While Sonic has used limited-time offers in the past, it’s the first time that the company is launching a product for only a day. "It’s something that we have not tried before, but we anticipate [it] being very popular and we’ll hopefully do a lot more of it in the future," said Todd Smith, CMO of Sonic.

The goal in using a purely digital approach is to target millennials who have a few extra dollars to spend and are receptive towards out-of-the-box food and drink products. "LTOs have actually worked really well to hit that teen audience," Smith said. For example, earlier this summer, the brand rolled out 25 slushy flavors, and found that millennials were particularly receptive to a Nerds flavor.

Sonic is traditionally a heavy spender with TV ads, but Smith was quick to note that although more spend is moving towards digital, more traditional tactics will continue to be a mainstay. "TV is still certainly the lion’s share of our budget and certainly not dead," Smith said. "But you’re going to see youthful, fun, adventurous [and] interesting promotions from us a lot more going forward—especially on the social platforms."

Sonic is also launching a Snapchat account to correlate to Thursday’s promotion. Leading up to the promo, the QSR is sending out messages via the app showing pictures of cups with copy reminding users about tomorrow’s promo.

The Oklahoma City-based brand’s Snapchat efforts build on a campaign in March with Vine to push information about deals. After working with some of the platform’s celebrities like Nash Grier, Sonic enlisted a new crop of influencers including Christian Leonard and Shonduras for Snapchat.

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