Industry News | March 22, 2012 | QSR Exclusive Brief

Sonic Takes Another Look at 'Two Guys' for Marketing Help

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After a switch to a new marketing approach failed to cement brand recognition in the customer's mind, Sonic Drive-In returned to an old marketing strategy at the end of 2012’s second quarter: the iconic "Two Guys" promotion.

J. Clifford Hudson, CEO of Sonic Drive-In, told investors during the company's second-quarter earnings call yesterday that Sonic returned to the previous marketing strategy because the new campaign "did not have the flexibility of moving across a variety of dayparts and messages."

Sonic Drive-In hired a new CMO, James O'Reilly, in February. He’s worked for two other quick-serve companies: Einstein Noah and Yum! Brands.

"We're optimistic that our revised marketing strategies should position us to maintain positive same-store sales growth for the remainder of the year," Hudson said. "To move our business forward, from our viewpoint, we need a campaign that can promote all five dayparts in a relatively short period of time.”

The problem, Hudson told investors, was the length of time it took for one new commercial "to be even recognized as a Sonic promotion." He said it necessitated "longer promotional windows to get comparable brand recognition by customers." As a result, the quick-serve chain was unable to promote the same number of dayparts as it had historically been able to do using the "Two Guys" creative strategy, Hudson said.

"That fact is that this 'Two Guys' format ends up being ideally suited to meet the needs of a greater number of short-views promotions," Hudson said. "Our research told us [the ‘Two Guys’ promotion] instills a very strong customer recognition and customer appeal," enabling the company to promote different products for different dayparts with a single campaign format.

"We expect this strategy to achieve a high level of awareness of promotions, and ultimately result in increased traffic in a shorter period of time than the other creative format permitted,” Hudson said.

The company's system-wide same-store sales increased 3.5 percent during the second quarter, with an increase of 3.6 percent at franchise drive-ins and a 3.1 percent increase at company drive-ins.

By Jan Fletcher