Consumer holiday spending was lackluster. Retailer profits are swooning. And Ronald McDonald is in danger of losing his job.
The unconfirmed rumor that the frizzy haired icon may be yet another white-faced victim of corporate belt-tightening sent shock waves through elementary schools across the nation.
Business trend experts say the still-grimly-smiling hamburger clown might not be the lone casualty of declining sales. They warn that Mickey Mouse and the AFLAC duck could get the boot next. In fact, according to anonymous sources, only Smokey the Bear is believed to be fire-proof, since he works for the government.
Are things really so dire?
“No way. This is blackmail,” says Veri Suspicious, vice president of Icon Watch, an on-line e-zine. “These high-profile layoff threats are nothing more than a scare tactic aimed at coercing consumers to open their wallets.”
Not so, at least according to industry insiders. They maintain the timing of rumors about the controversial terminations is purely coincidental.
“This is a business decision, nothing more,” says one, who declined to go on record or divulge his name. “Who could possibly believe corporations would exploit consumer sentiment or mislead the public?”