Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Sonic to start putting edible college football logos on burger buns

Anyone who has ever said they were hungry for more football will now have a chance to put their money where their mouth is, or  — in this case — mouth where their money is.

Drive-in fast-food chain Sonic announced Wednesday start offering regionally-flavored burgers with college football team logos stamped onto the buns.

The Oklahoma City-based chain is experimenting with the unusual marketing ploy after doing deals with universities in Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana. Each school will have a signature sandwich featuring the football team's logo streamed onto the top bun.

In Sonic's home state, the company has done deals with both Oklahoma University and Oklahoma State University. Both universities share a cheeseburger called the "Sooner and Cowboy Burger" which is topped with hardwood smoked brisket, hickory barbecue sauce and American cheese.

The University of Louisiana's cheese burger, otherwise known as "the Ragin' Cajun Bulldog Burger" features spicy Tabasco mayo and is topped with pepper jack cheese.

Sonic is hopeful that the regional approach will help its brand stand out in a crowded marketplace.

"Any opportunity to take a great-tasting product and tailor it to the local community makes good sense," Chief Marketing Officer James O'Reilly told USAToday.

Renowned for its use of carhops on roller skates, the drive-in chain has 3,500 locations in 44 states.

Sonic is using a process similar to that used to transfer photos onto cakes. The logo is made of a tapioca starch on wax paper, which is steamed onto each specialty bun.

The college football stamps will add upwards of a dime to the price of each burger because Sonic has to pay both licensing and royalty fees to the universities.

The burgers will retail between $3.99 - $4.99 at Sonics local to the teams featured. Consumers who don't like food coloring can request the burgers without the logos - but will still have to pay the same price.

The concept was tested just in Louisiana last year and proved a hit with customers.

If this expanded rollout program catches on, then O'Reilly expects that the company will consider expanding to include pro sports logos too. 

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