In June, Sonic debuted their newest and weirdest item to date – the Pickle Juice Slush. Their ramp up to release was covered by numerous media entities and created a lot of anticipatory social buzz amongst customers, who, as you might expect, had mixed feelings. When it became available, millennials, influencers and even some celebrities flocked to their local Sonics to try the salty-and-sweet concoction, posting their reactions, reviews, and pictures on social media.
The pickle is clearly trendy right now. A recent U.S. Census and Simmons National Consumer Survey says 239.17 million Americans consumed pickles in 2017, and the figure is projected to increase to 245.56 million by 2020. KFC jumped on the pickle bandwagon at the same time as Sonic, with their seemingly delicious Pickle Fried Chicken. Other companies have taken it to the extreme with crazy combinations such as pickle soft serve, pickle candy canes, and pickle-flavored doughnuts.
Slightly Mad Chief Strategic Officer, Paul Levine, says, “Some ideas should just stay as ideas. I can’t imagine that anyone here will be happy. True pickle lovers want a savory treat and the classic Sonic slush lovers want their sweet/cold tried and true summer slush experience. I don’t see any real satisfaction (for anyone) in the middle.”
Did Sonic take it too far with the Pickle Juice Slush? Slightly Mad Chief Creative Officer Dawn Amato is in agreement with Paul, that nobody actually wants to drink the stuff, but as a marketing stunt it is paying off on their mission. “Whether you like the new flavor or not, it’s totally consistent with what we know of the Sonic brand,” says Amato, “It’s a little wacky and a lot innovative.”
Whether or not the Pickle Juice Slush was a sales success remains to be seen, but it certainly created a timely buzz that put Sonic in the spotlight.