Sonic Wants To Change Its Instagram Look, With The Help Of Chef Jacques La Merde

The Instagram celebrity is helping the brand create this limited, photogenic product run for Coachella.

No one has ever, ever said, “You know what Instagram could use? More food photography.” But while your cousin Bruce has a choice whether or not to post yet another “epic” snap of his latest cheeseburger conquest, when you’re a food brand, your choices of social content are a bit more limited. In order to stay interesting, you need to get creative. To that end, Sonic decided to tailor a specific menu item to this specific social medium.


Square Shakes, or #SquareShakes, by agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners San Francisco (GSPSF), takes the idea of custom social content directly to its product design for a limited run at Coachella. The brand has partnered with chef Jacques La Merde–aka Christine Flynn, executive chef at Toronto’s IQ Food Co. and a well-known food Instagrammer who makes junk food look like fine dining–to make the world’s first product designed specifically for Instagram. The Sonic Square Shake will be entirely square–square cup, square straw– and only available through “Shop Now”-sponsored ads on Instagram to Coachella festivalgoers at the Base Camp festival grounds on April 16.

GSPSF associate creative director Tristan Graham says the idea came about by looking closely at how brands have been typically working on Instagram. “We realized that most brands encourage people to change their behavior to fit a social media campaign or a hashtag,” says Graham. “We wanted to reverse that, to be the first brand to change our product to fit social media.”

For GSPSF creative Rohan Cooke, it’s an opportunity to pair two things rarely seen together. “Fast food doesn’t always get a chance to live on design blogs or in the hands of designers, so it’s exciting to see fast food spoken about like a piece of art for a platform that’s built for it,” says Cooke. “Making these shakes only available through Instagram is a truly exciting step forward in how food and Instagram can live together.”

But the shakes have to do more than just look good on Instagram. With flavors like bourbon brown sugar, wildberry and lavender, dulce de leche, and more, they also have to taste good and survive a festival. “The development of the shakes was an intense process,” says Graham. “We had to consider everything, from making sure they look incredible from every angle through to how they will react to the hot weather at Coachella. We were lucky though to have the incredible experience of chef Jacques La Merde and Sonic’s product team on our side.”


About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.