Sonic Taps Zenith for Media Portion of $100 Million Account

Creative Duties for Burger Chain Still in Play

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CHICAGO ( -- Sonic Corp. named Publicis Groupe's Zenith Media as its media agency of record after a review, beating out WPP's Maxus, Chicago, and Interpublic Group of Cos.' Universal McCann, Detroit. Media and creative had been handled by independent shop Barkley.

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, who declined to participate in the review, ended up retaining a few portions of the business, including assignments in field marketing, PR and a national cause-branding campaign. The creative portion of the review remains in play.

The review comes after Sonic's June appointment of Danielle Vona as chief marketing officer. Ms. Vona had previously been with PepsiCo for 11 years, serving most recently as VP-marketing, according to her LinkedIn profile.

"The finalist agencies did an outstanding job of demonstrating their unique capabilities and applying their team's talents and expertise to Sonic's media needs. Zenith was selected based on their superior planning and buying expertise with great insights into our brand and target , as well as the quality of their team," said Ms. Vona.

The company'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. Sonic reported 4.3% dip in same-store sales for fiscal year 2009, and only a 0.9% rise in fiscal year 2008.

Sonic, who has more than 3,500 drive-ins nationwide, in the first half of 2010 spent $64.5 million on advertising, according to Kantar Media. The company in 2009 spent $155.5 million, and $132.2 million in 2008.

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