Leo Burnett

When trouble hits, company reputations can suffer

When trouble hits, company reputations can suffer

So it's come to this: McDonald's is benching the Ronald.

As the Tribune recently reported, clown mascot Ronald McDonald is on a commercial hiatus, the result of a company effort to distance one of the world's most recognized corporate symbols from a recent flurry of bizarre and disturbing clown sightings that have been linked to threatening incidents near college campuses and elsewhere.

McDonald's decision is understandable.

Companies ignoring issues that could hurt their reputations, including multimillion-dollar investments in corporate mascots and symbols, are just begging for trouble, experts contend. That goes for businesses that are innocent victims of outside...