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.


Title Art
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.

Supporting Quality Cue
In-context lifestyle shot

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.”


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

Supporting Quality Cue

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.

Lifestyle in-context
Flat Creative
Flat Creative
Lifestyle In-Context

By letting our target audience insights drive the menu strategy, the Fall 2019 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.

Supporting Quality Cue
Supporting Statistic

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