SONIC Drive-In: Passenger Menus - Signal Theory

SONIC Drive-In: Passenger Menus

How target audience insights influenced SONIC menu strategy.

With more and more restaurants joining the “quality wars,” SONIC Drive-In turned to target audience insights to create a passenger menu strategy that broke through the noise.


That moment when reality meets delight at SONIC
Signal Theory Productions | Food Photography: Bruton Stroube



For years, passenger menus had been used to highlight the quality of SONIC food and drink, just like every other QSR. Well, SONIC isn’t like every other QSR, and Signal Theory wanted to make sure to highlight those opportunities on-lot. To keep SONIC messaging from becoming white noise, we began considering new passenger menu strategies.

We turned to the most important stakeholder, the SONIC guest, for inspiration.

Made to Order button next to stack of tater tots
Family in front of signage at stylized SONIC drive-in that says: That Moment You Take Family Dinner to the Drive-In

After extensive research, the drive-in identified two fictional personas that represented the typical guest.

These customers valued quality and convenience, and they chose SONIC for a moment of carefree indulgence amidst the daily grind. All of this information led to the insight, “SONIC sparks moments of delightful possibility.”

Closeup view of SONIC point of purchase signage showing scrumptious chili dog, corn dog, tots and other other foods.

The word “moment” caught our eye. The team started thinking: Why not use the menu to highlight those unique moments through our awesome food?

The word "QUALITY" being dipped int one of three small bowls with various dipping sauces
Can I Take Your Order? 109K Menus in Circulation alongside several SONIC corn dogs.

Armed with the target audience research, brand promise and idea of focusing on the experience of SONIC, the “That Moment When” concept came to life. Taking a cue from popular social media vernacular, each board started with “That moment when …” and was paid off with copy highlighting a delightful SONIC experience.

Stylized SONIC drive-in with Man and his puppy in front of POP showing many snack items that says "That Moment You Dip into Something Delicious"
Closeup of "That Moment When You Dip into Something Delicious" point of purchase signage filled with various tempting SONIC snack items.
Closeup of "That Moment When You Take the First Refreshing Sip" point of purchase signage filled with various SONIC beverages.
Stylized SONIC drive-in with carhop and two women in front of one of the point of purchase signs.

By letting our target audience insights drive the menu strategy, the Fall Passenger Menus spoke with our guests rather than at them. Not to mention, we established the drive-in as a place with quality food and delightful experiences.

Always Fresh Fruit graphic alongside a lemon
Supporting Statistic

Oval button with this text: Connect with Signal Theory

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