Sonic's Two Guys Campaign Hits 10-Year Mark
LOS ANGELES - Oklahoma-owned Sonic serves millions of customers across the nation. Over the past 10 years, the food chain has grown in popularity, in part, because of the two guys behind the wheel.
You may not know their names, but you've more than likely seen them on TV. The two guys from the sonic commercials, who love to pop in for a bite at America's drive-in, have in their own right become one of America's favorite duos. T.J. Jagodowski and Pete Grosz, both improvisational actors, first hung out at the drive in back in 2004 when Sonic began its ‘Two Guy's Campaign.' News 9 caught up with them during those humble beginnings and decided to check in with them now, nearly 10 years later, on a commercial set near Los Angeles.
"A lot about what we do is really similar to how it used to be. The scope of this has gotten larger, but we've always been fortunate that the guys that run the show give us a lot of room to play," said Sonic Spokesperson, T.J. Jagodowski.
One of those guys that run the show is Chief Marketing Officer Todd Smith.
"It's one of the longest running campaigns in the industry and I'll tell you it is hard to get a campaign that works for that period of time," said Todd Smith, Chief Marketing Officer.
But it wasn't without a brief setback when like Sonic's fried ‘pickelos,' the company discontinued the two guys in 2010.
"In 2010, you stepped away from it, how did it feel?" News 9's Kelly Ogle asked.
"Intensely lonely, we wandered the streets collecting cans or whatever we could find," answered Sonic Spokesperson, T.J. Jagodowski.
Despite losing their Sonic gig, they never lost their sense of humor.
"I was in between the median the whole time just poking things with a stick," said Pete Grosz, Sonic Spokesperson.
"It was a bit of a bummer just because they've always been fun to do," said Jagodowski.
Wanting to focus the campaign more heavily on its food, Sonic soon realized how much the two guys and their quirky banter over an order of tots meant to their customers.
"As soon as the two guys went away, we noticed an immediate impact from consumers saying 'Hey, what happened? Where did they go? Those guys were fun,'" said Smith.
So they brought them back in 2012 in a social media publicity stunt. Via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and a few ‘self-produced' videos posted to YouTube, the Sonic-eating duo pleaded for their old jobs back.
"It culminated with us reintroducing them with a big re-launch of the campaign," said Smith.
It was a move that put the two guys back in the saddle once again.
"It was nice to have a job, that was good," said Jagodowski.
"I'm a big fan of zombie movies so I like things coming back from the dead and going on forever," laughed Grosz. "But no, it was great; it was like this great thing just fell back into your lap."
Smith added, "It's amazing how they appeal across age ranges. They appeal to middle-aged folks, they appeal to millennials, high schoolers think they're hilarious."
In fact, the campaign in the past two years has performed better than it did in its entire run over the previous eight years.
"For the last two years, we've been the number one advertising campaign in the industry for effectiveness and appeal which are things we look at as marketers and they don't seem to be slowing down at all," said Smith.
"Will these guys be 50 years old and still eating together at Sonic?" News 9's Kelly Ogle asked.
Todd Smith, the Chief Marketing Officer replied. "I have no idea, Kelly. If they keep working then they will be for sure."
It's a job securing these two guys firmly in the front seat of commercial success.
"It really is about as lucky as you can get," said Jagodowski.
"It checks all the boxes of great job," added Grosz.
When they are not shooting Sonic commercials, both actors perform improvisational acts live, Jagodowski in Chicago and Grosz in New York City. Grosz also is a writer for the Seth Meyers Show.