The Shorty Awards honor the best of social media and digital. View this season's finalists!

Special Project

Special Project
From the 7th Annual Shorty Awards

Every Time You Laugh, A Sonic Carhop Gets Their Skates

Entered in Humor


Objective: Turn Sonic Drive-In consumers into "super fans" on social by translating the brand's quirky, irreverent nature into a playful social persona with a quick-witted voice and clever tone.

Strategy: Leverage the real-time nature of Twitter to approach engagement during big events in a way that's truly Sonic, adding playful color commentary that drives brand awareness and buzz.

Outcome: Stayed true to the brand voice, whether that meant tweeting hot dog 20 times in a row, or hitting our audience over the head with the word "float." With all of these posts, we drove positive conversation and increased brand affinity.

Strategy and Execution

We think we're pretty funny. Here's why:


Ah, July 4th. Independence Day. The American-est of American holidays, when we celebrate and appreciate the wonderful country in which we live, because #America. For some brands, July 4th is a time to push their products out (sometimes, offensively so), no matter how far-fetched the connection may be. For Sonic, it was a perfect opportunity to deploy a unique tactic in order to jump in on a trending conversation (about an actual Sonic menu item), and break through the holiday clutter while we were at it.

We challenged Nathan's Famous to a Hot Dog Tweeting Contest. (Rather than a Hot Dog Eating Contest. Get it??) What exactly does that entail? Tweeting different variations of "hot dog" 20 times* in rapid succession, earning an average of 55 retweets per tweet and receiving 18,293 impressions.

*Fun fact: Twitter won't let you tweet out the same exact word or phrase more than once, so, we had to get a little creative. Check it out.

A Song of Fire and Sonic Ice

Dragons. The Mother of Dragons. Kingdoms, castles, pesky princes. Whitewalkers. Blood. Lots of blood. Family...dynamics. These are just some of the things that describe hit HBO show "Game of Thrones," among which Sonic Drive-In probably doesn't spring to mind. That off-kilter thinking was a catalyst for us to create content purely focused on building brand buzz and awareness around a television phenomenon so big, it only premieres once a year. Rather than push a product or go the corny cliche route, we took the show's hotly anticipated April 2014 premiere as an opportunity to engage with our competitors in an engaging and relevant way. To do so, we played off fast food joints with names that related to Game of Thrones' puns to created a fun, threaded tweet that fit the topic. The stream of tweets was:

Both Burger King and Dairy Queen responded, and fan sentiment was very positive. Fans were excited to see the interaction between competitors, encouraging more of it - a couple fans even egged the brand on to call out McDonald's and Taco Bell. As Digiday concluded, "the game of tweets has to go to Sonic."


In a continuous effort to capitalize on popular cultural events by engaging our audience, we tweeted the word "float" every time someone on TV said "float" during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Did some members of our community find it slightly annoying? Yes. Is that OK? Absolutely. This is another instance in which we decided against pushing out hackneyed content--and knowingly ruffled a few feathers--to stay true to the Sonic voice and be heard within all the holiday noise.


Entrant Company / Organization Name

Sonic Drive-In, VaynerMedia


Entry Credits