Don’t blink Thursday or you’ll miss Sonic Drive-In’s latest drink promotion.
Sonic Corp., parent to the 3,500-unit Sonic chain, is making its debut on Snapchat Thursday by revealing a “Mystery Disappearing Slush” flavor for just one day on the social media platform that is especially popular with Millennials and teens. The flavor is secret until Sonic posts its Snapchat reveal.
Snapchat, a mobile app, allows users to send and receive “self-destructing” photos and videos that can be viewed, depending on the senders’ decision, between one to 10 seconds before they vanish from the recipient’s device.
“We’re probably one of the first fast-food places to ever do a single-day LTO,” said Todd Smith, Sonic’s chief marketing officer, in an interview Wednesday. “Despite the fact Sonic has been around for 60 years, consumers see us as a very young and youthful brand. We have a lot of Millennials and teenagers who love the brand.”
And Snapchat is in that wheelhouse. Analytics firm ComScore Inc. recently issued a report that found Snapchat is now more popular than Twitter among U.S. Millennials. The firm found 32.9 percent of Americans ages 18-34 had installed the Snapchat app on their smartphones in June 2014, trailing only Facebook at 75.6 percent and Instagram at 43.1 percent.
“We were looking at a way to really give that group of customers — the Millennial group and teen group — something super unique to them and would come to them in a way they want to be talked to,” Smith said.
The promotion has been run solely in social media, using Sonic’s Facebook, Twitter and Vine accounts, Smith said.
“We are letting the social platform dictate a little bit how we want to do this promotion. It’s tailor-made for teenagers and tailor-made for the Snapchat platform,” he added. “Snaps disappear, so we thought we’d do a disappearing product.”
Since Monday, Sonic has been getting the word out about the new mystery slush flavor on social media via Facebook and Twitter.
“On [Aug.] 21,” Smith said, “we will do a big blast with Snapchat and reveal a picture of it. Of course, we show it and it disappears. Of course, you have to come to the store to get it.”
In March, Sonic debuted on the Twitter-related Vine video platform with a promotion for its ice-cream-based Master Blast.
“The response was so incredibly positive,” Smith said.
Smith said this one-day Mystery Disappearing Slush promotion was preceded by “a lot of store communications to tell them what we are doing,” Smith said. “The stores are ready for it and ready to serve as many customers as we can tomorrow. The carhops and employees have been educating their bosses on what Snapchat is. It’s been trickling up and not trickling down.”
In general, he added, the company plans to continue promoting items with its new presence on Snapchat, as well as other social media platforms.
“We’re constantly looking for new platforms to get into,” Smith said.
As of Wednesday, Sonic Drive-In ranked 140 on the NRN Social 200 index, a daily look and ranking of the social media activities of the nation’s largest restaurant chains.
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