This is what fear does to ad agencies.
You see back in October 2010, Sonic fired Barkley the agency that created a campaign featuring the two guys at the drive in. Apparently growing from $776 million to over $3 billion in sales over the 17 year relationship wasn't good enough.
After a review the business was awarded to what I considered to be one of the better agencies in the country, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. Their work, however, which has been largely formulaic and forgettable, hasn't moved the needle in the right direction. Sales have declined .9% over the past year.
So Sonic Sonic made the decision to return to what had been working and bring back the two guys.
Here's the funny part. They didn't go back to the agency that created the characters and helped them grow for all those years. They had Goodby execute the campaign.
I'm sure the guys a Goodby fought like hell to come up with and sell their own original idea. But someone at the client had made up their mind to bring the two guys back. So with several other high profile client losses already this year and a very public layoff of a lot of good employees, Goodby did the "smart thing" and acquiesced.
If Goodby hadn't just lost HP and Sprint would they have fought harder? If they hadn't just laid off over 100 people, would they have done the "right thing" and resigned the account over "creative differences" as other agencies in similar situations have? Who knows?
If I were part of the team at Barkley that created this campaign, I'd be pissed. But the client paid for the work, so the client owns the work. Sonic can do whatever they want with their characters.
Unfortunately for Barkley, Sonic found out a year too late just how valuable those characters actually were.