McDonald’s Alters Brand Partnership Lineup

CHICAGO McDonald’s Corp. will divest itself of two of its “partner brands,” selling off its stakes in Donatos Pizzeria and Fazoli’s Italian Restaurants, and refocusing efforts on expanding two other franchises: Boston Market and Chipotle.

“We will begin 2004 with a clear direction for what we need to do with these brands,” said McDonald’s CEO Jim Cantalupo in a statement. “These two brands are sizeable companies that can operate autonomously. We believe this new focus and discipline makes the most sense for our company, our shareholders and our ongoing business momentum.”

The Oak Brook, Ill., company has agreed to sell Donatos Pizzeria back to its founder and will discontinue developing its non-McDonald’s brands outside the U.S., which affects Boston Market in Canada and Australia and Donatos in Germany. McDonald’s has also issued a letter of intent to exit its joint venture with the Fazoli’s restaurant chain.

It was not immediately clear what effect this decision would have on advertising assignments. Donatos’ $15 million account is currently handled by Omnicom Group’s Martin/Williams in Minneapolis. Fazoli’s is currently considering five agencies to handle its $15 million account.