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From the 7th Annual Shorty Awards

To Read, Or Not To Read - It Doesn’t Matter, Sonic’s Here To Help You

Finalist in Real-Time Response


Objective: Inject real-time, 1:1 engagement into Sonic Drive-In's always-on strategy and deploy its signature social voice.

Strategy: Instead of planning "real-time'' content geared towards big holidays or events, Sonic perpetually engages its community and reacts in real time to provide genuine, value and off-the-cuff entertainment.

So, with back to school season weighing heavy on most Sonic consumers' minds in late August, Sonic stepped in to lighten the load of the dreaded "summer reading list". With its trademark playful approach and going beyond mere commiseration, Sonic provided students with actual value (kind of) by inviting people to comment with a book from their reading list, which Sonic then summarized in 10 words or less.

Outcome: More than 100 submissions. 25 book reports. 1 day. 25,320 people reach with a 8% engagement rate.

The titles that our community shared were relatively mainstream, but the brand put its imagination and creativity to work in creating the responses. Beyond delivering real-time responses one-on-one, Sonic found that its fans were reading through all of the responses, outside of their own, and engaging with them.

Strategy and Execution

We'll be the first to admit that content leveraging real-time events is great. But, that's been done. So, we asked ourselves: How can we win at the quieter moments in real-time?

As back-to-school season neared last August,, we took an extremely deep dive into our community, because we love insights. Insights make the world go 'round. And, we know at VaynerMedia that grounding creative in insights makes it that much better. (The best, actually.) We learned that a strong proportion of Sonic's Facebook audience is comprised of high school students, and that--as they themselves told it in countless social media posts--summer reading is still a thing.

Instead of going the traditional route with back-to-school advertising, we wanted to create content that would actually be useful for the community: Give us the title of a book you have to read and we'll respond with a synopsis in 10 words or less.

Cue windfall:

Great Expectations?

Easy, we showed: "Expectations =/= reality. Sometimes that's great, sometimes it's not. London."

Lord of the Flies?

Pshhh, we got this: "Buncha kids + island. Not as fun as it sounds."

50 Shades of Grey?

LOL, you wish: "Nice try. There's no way you're reading that for school."

Sonic's summer reading Facebook post received hundreds of comments, which put our community managers' Google-ing skills and writing prowess to the test. The results were so good that many fans were engaging with comments that weren't even theirs. Plus,we even got some press love from Digiday, too.


Entrant Company / Organization Name

Sonic Drive-In, VaynerMedia


Entry Credits