MIAMI, Fla. (CAP) - Long-time McDonald's restaurant icon and Ronald McDonald confidant Grimace, who sent shockwaves through the food services industry when he declared his free agency from the fast food giant, has signed a long-term deal with rival Burger King. The exact terms of that deal were not disclosed.
"This was a business decision and does not reflect on Ronald or anyone in the McDonald's family," said Grimace's agent, Scott Boras. "The demand for a guy who can do what Grimace does is pretty clear in today's marketplace, and Grimace knows that."
Grimace and Burger King came to an agreement shortly before both sides boarded a private jet out of Chicago, Ill. bound for Burger King's corporate headquarters in Miami, where the rotund mascot underwent a physical shortly after landing. He is expected to step into his official role for BK within a couple of weeks.
"We have long admired Grimace's abilities and believe he will be a great fit with the Burger King organization," said CEO Daniel Schwartz in a statement. "We may not know what he is, but we know what he does - bring in the customers."
Other fast food restaurants had also made efforts to land Grimace, with both Wendy's and KFC reporting that they were on the short list, but just couldn't finalize a deal for the purple plaything. Business analysts agree that signing Grimace is just the boost any restaurant needs to battle McDonald's.
"It's long been held that nobody can catch McDonald's in the fast food race," said Laura Dice of Goldman Sachs. "But losing something like Grimace to your arch rival - that's a huge blow and the best chance yet for BK to overtake McD's."
Officials for McDonald's said they anticipated they might not be able to re-sign Grimace and have actually begun the search for his replacement. According to the company, the list of qualified candidates has been narrowed down to Kool-Aid Man, the Taco Bell Chihuahua, and the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games mascot Izzy.
Shares of Burger King were up 18% in early trading today, while shares of McDonald's were only off slightly as investors wait for official reaction from the McDonald's corporation.
- CAP News Staff