Dan Fogarty Defined the Look and Essence of McDonald's Mexican Grill Restaurants

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CHICAGO ( -- Dan Fogarty, longtime marketing director for McDonald’s-owned Chipotle Mexican Grill, resigned today, according to an internal memo written by CEO Steve Ells.
Dan Fogarty, the marketing chief who gave Chipotle its quirky look and feel, resigned today.

'Laid foundation'
Mr. Fogarty “made an immediate and positive impact and soon after he officially joined Chipotle as our marketing director,” said Mr. Ells in the note. “He laid the foundation for our marketing program by defining our public look, giving voice to our advertising, understanding the influence great music can have, and adding his own unique and thoughtful touches to our emerging brand. He was instrumental in developing the Chipotle culture.”

Mr. Fogarty couldn’t be reached for comment. Mr. Ells declined to comment.

'Keeper of the flame'
Mr. Fogarty, who carried the title “keeper of the faith” at the company, oversaw quirky marketing efforts including the development of a crew training video in the style of a mock documentary about a girl’s forbidden love for a burrito. It also ran a TV campaign that spoofed PBS shows, including a phony pledge drive, in support of its actual sponsorship of the cooking show “How to Cook Everything: Bittman Takes on America’s Chefs.”

Mr. Fogarty’s departure comes as McDonald’s prepares to spin off a minority stake in Chipotle via a public offering analysts estimate would raise about $1 billion. In 1998, McDonald’s took a small stake in the then 18-unit chain and has since increased its holdings to 90%. Chipotle has 460 units in 22 states; according to QSR magazine, sales grew 43% to $480 million in 2004.

It’s unclear whether the pending IPO factors into Mr. Fogarty’s decision to leave the company. He will continue to work with Chipotle on an “outsource” basis, according the memo.

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