Sonic Bad Weather Channel
Solving a business problem using design, technology and real-time notifications.

Sonic Bad Weather Channel

Created with Goodby Silverstein & Partners for Sonic

The Sonic Bad Weather Channel experience intends to increase drive-through visits during "extreme" weather events by offering customers special deals in their area when the weather gets extreme. Hot, cold, rain or snow, the application automatically triggers deals based on integration with a weather API. The application communicates deals out via SMS and guides users (providing specific directions) to the nearest Sonic drive-through.  Alternatively, users can visit the location-aware map and see all of the deals in their area.

Launch Project


Our content management system allowed administrators to create and edit deals in real-time. Sonic Franchisees were able to accept and offer these deals via a simple dashboard. The mobile hub explains the program, lets people sign up for deal notifications and lets people know about the deals at their local SONIC Drive-Ins.

The experience pulls weather information via a weather API in real-time for the entire country. When people visit the site, we use geo-location data to pushes them to their local market. The custom back-end allows individual franchise owners to decide which deals to offer and when to activate them. When a deal is activated by an extreme weather condition, it appears on the map and is sent out to people who have opted in via geo-targeted notifications. Different types of bad weather trigger appropriate deals... who doesn’t want 50% off ice cream on a hot day?


Weather Visualization

Beyond the web application's need to map Sonic locations, and their associated deals, it was important for the application to also illustrate areas "bad weather" across the entire country. In order to create the desired visualization of weather data, we employed a weather API that provided GeoJSON objects for each weather system. With the GeoJSON data in hand, the visualization was drawn with an HTML5 Canvas layer inserted into the map. Canvas was used, as opposed to map polygons, in order to create the visualization’s smooth curves and custom look.

At a Glance

What is Was

A new type of smart, mobile, web experience that delivers location-based deals directly to users smart phones and then guides those users the nearest Sonic drive-through on a stylized map that represents current weather patterns that are triggering the deals.

What we did

We proposed an alternative to creating just another app. By delivering this functionality through a mobile web experience we removed the largest barrier to adoption - the app stores. Creative strategy, user experience design, visual design, technical planning and implementation, support, integration with Sonic’s existing systems.

Why it worked

The widely accessible web-app approach allowed for broader reach and user adoption. The experience is currently being tested in three US markets and will be rolled out nationwide in 2015.