Sonic Ad Boom: Ups Spending To $200 Million

SONIC ad spotAt least one national advertiser is not cutting its media budget over the next 12 months. Sonic Corp., with some 3,400 fast-food restaurants and known for its offbeat advertising, plans to increase spending to more than $200 million for the next fiscal year. The company said recently that about half of that bundle would be in national cable, which has helped it efficiently reach new markets as it expands beyond its Southern base. The company now has its drive-ins in 37 states, with openings in New Jersey, Michigan and Minnesota over the past year.

President Scott McClain said on a conference call: "We are well on our way to becoming a truly national brand."

The $200 million budget represents a 5% increase over the past year, but is up 67% since 2005. Oklahoma City-based Sonic also has a significant presence on national network sports broadcasts.

The spending jump comes even as the chain posted only slight growth--.9% in same-store sales for the fiscal year. (It's down from 3.1% a year ago.) A .6% decline came in the most recent quarter. Total fiscal-year revenues were $671 million, meaning that media expenditures came in at about 28% of sales.

CEO Clifford Hudson said spots in the coming year will focus on new products and less expensive offerings.

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