Cause Branding

Highlighting a Brand Treasure

SONIC Drive-In Limeades for Learning

More than $2 million
donated to education
More than 220 million
earned media impressions
414 percent
increase in consumer engagement over three years


SONIC had two specific business objectives that a community marketing initiative needed to fulfill: build a deeper, long-term relationship with women and maintain drink superiority in a competitive marketplace.


Together, SONIC and Crossroads developed Limeades for Learning, a grant-making program that supported U.S. public school classrooms in local communities. It was launched in 2009, and it was SONIC’s first nationwide cause campaign, thanks to fully integrated marketing strategies. SONIC partnered with to fulfill projects requested by teachers. The public was encouraged to visit to sign up as a teacher with a project or to vote to fund a teacher’s project.


Thanks to strong earned media efforts conducted by Crossroads—more than 220 million impressions, including placements in national media outlets such as Ladies’ Home Journal, Parents, Working Mother and coverage on the CBS Early Show—consumer engagement in the program increased exponentially. In 2009, 850,000 consumers voted in Limeades for Learning, compared to 4.4 million votes in 2011. The result made an impact on the country’s education system, with Limeades for Learning and SONIC Drive-In donating more than $2 million and funding projects in more than 4,000 classrooms, benefitting more than 111,000 students nationwide. Limeades for Learning received numerous industry accolades including a Silver Anvil by PRSA, a Silver HALO by Cause Marketing Forum and a Best In Show honor at Greater Kansas City PRSA PRISM Awards.