Americans living a Sonic-free existence have found themselves plagued by an inescapable curse: Sonic commercials running even when there’s not a location of the fast-food chain within 100 miles.
And, according to Sonic’s CEO, that’s all part of the drive-in chain’s plan.
“It’s cheaper and more efficient, because we do business in 45 out of 50 states, to buy nationally,” CEO Cliff Hudson told Business Insider. “You get the airtime cheaper and you get better placement.”
However, there’s also a less obvious reason. By running ads in areas where there are no Sonic locations, the fast-food chain can get customers invested in Sonic before the chain even opens in the region.
Im seeing Jersey Mike's sub commercials. Closest one is 100 miles away. Used to see Sonic ads in MN when there weren't any in the state.
— Daryll Hurst (@daryllhurst) September 24, 2017
I hate seeing Sonic commericals..like there isn't even one in Delaware foh!
— jade???? (@curlykillaa) March 7, 2017
We always got the Sonic commericals… But we never had a Sonic… Until today…
— ??ff?????c H??????g (@OpheliacMonst3r) October 26, 2015
Previously, when Sonic would open in a new region, one of the chain’s biggest challenges would be raising awareness, according to Hudson.
Now, customers are often already intrigued by the chain thanks to the national commercials the company has been running since 2015. Often, Hudson says, new locations are slammed with long lines when they do finally open.
Sonic mixes “national awareness with a super-regional footprint,” Hudson says.
There are more than 3,500 Sonic locations in 45 states. While some states, like Texas, Oklahoma, and Tennessee, are flooded with hundreds of Sonic locations, others, such as Rhode Island, Delaware, and Connecticut, only have a few. California and Florida, two states that Hudson believes could handle up to 1,000 Sonic locations, currently have less than 100 each.
So, even if there is a Sonic in your state, there may not be any locations near you. Due to the chain’s “drive-in” model, locations are primarily in suburban and rural areas that have the space for all of the stalls to accommodate cars.
Since the chain is expanding, you can expect to keep hearing the ads – at least until the national chain is really available everywhere.