Sonic Names Goodby Creative Agency of Record

Omnicom Shop Bested Cramer-Krasselt, Publicis in Review That Followed Drive-in Chain's Split With Longtime Agency

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- After a 17-year run with independent shop Barkley, drive-in restaurant chain Sonic Corp. named Omnicom Group's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners as its creative agency of record after a review. The agency beat out independent Cramer-Krasselt, Chicago, and Publicis Groupe's Publicis, Dallas and Seattle.

Sonic in December tapped Publicis' Zenith as its media agency of record, beating out WPP's Maxus, Chicago, and Interpublic Group of Cos.' Universal McCann, Detroit. Media and creative had been handled by Barkley. Joanne Davis Consulting oversaw the reviews.

"Every agency in the review did an amazing job," said Sonic CMO Danielle Vona, who joined the company in July. "We selected Goodby not only because they are the right partner, they had amazing strategy and creative to bring to our business at an important point in the evolution of our brand." Ms. Vona added that the primary reason she launched a review was "to make sure we had best partners in our marketing portfolio."

Barkley and Sonic in October ended the majority of their 17-year relationship after Sonic said it was launching a review of its $100 million creative and media account. Barkley, which declined to participate in the review, ended up retaining a few portions of the business, mostly assignments in PR and a national cause-branding campaign. Independent Lopez Negrete handles Hispanic marketing; independent C3 handles Sonic's children's program. Digital will be handled mostly by Goodby, although Havas' Euro RSCG, Chicago, Sonic's customer-relationship management, menu, on-lot and packaging agency, will handle some digital duties as well. Goodby will also work on social media.

Goodby faces some marketing and turnaround challenges, as Sonic's same-store sales have slid in recent years. For the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, Sonic reported a 7.8% decline in same-store sales, a 4.3% decline in same-store sales for fiscal year 2009, and only a 0.9% rise in fiscal year 2008.

Sonic, which has more than 3,500 drive-ins nationwide, spent $114.1 million on advertising from January through November 2010, according to Kantar Media. The company in 2009 spent $155.5 million, and $132.2 million in 2008.

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