Micky D's
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“Iris!” Carter hollered from the hallway outside. Iris sighed slightly at the sound of the senior partner's petulant tone.

Iris Dark and Ruprecht Carter had never much cared for one another, but as they were both board members and key shareholders of Marshall, Carter, and Dark, they were obliged to meet from time to time.

Iris had yet to seek out Carter for anything outside of official meetings, and the only time Carter ever sought her out in person was when he thought it was a matter of utmost importance.

It was never anything important.

“I’m in my office, Ruprecht,” Iris replied. Her office door swung open and Ruprecht Carter marched in like he was reporting to a general after a catastrophic enemy attack.

“Look at this!” he said, dumping a bag of paper cups, napkins, leaflets and fast-food containers out in front of her.

“Why are you pouring garbage onto my desk Ruprecht?”

“Read it!”

Iris rolled her eyes and picked up a leaflet at random.

Now you can order ahead of time with mobile ordering. Download the My McD’s app -”

“There, right there! You see it?”

“What?”

“These are from Canada, I picked them up while I was in Toronto and -”

“What were you doing at McDonald’s?”

Carter hesitated for a moment.

“That’s not important,” he said dismissively.

“I’m afraid I have to disagree. You’re the most elitist prick I’ve ever met. You eat haute cuisine exclusively, drink only Black Ivory coffee because ‘everything else is shit' -”

“I was aware of the irony of that statement when I made it, Iris.”

“- And literally the only bad thing I’ve ever heard you say about Trump was bashing his fast-food habit.”

“Two Big Macs, two Filet-o-Fishes and a chocolate shake is not a meal fit for a king!”

“So I ask again; what were you doing there?”

“I… I was with a whore and she insisted on getting something to eat first, and I didn’t want Penny to know so I couldn’t take her anywhere I might be recognized, so we went to McDonald’s. I ate prole food, I admit it. Are you happy?”

“Very,” Iris smiled. “And what did Ruprecht Carter, the paragon of High Society, order off the value menu? Did you get a happy meal? Did they give you a toy with it?”

“I had an Angus burger with a Caesar side salad and a cappuccino, but that’s not the point Iris! Look at this! The McDonald’s in Canada is branding itself as MCD!”

Iris glared at him with a mixture of contempt and confusion.

“Ruprecht, I’m busy.”

“You’re playing on your computer.”

“I’m writing code, which is probably the most productive part of my job, and you’re distracting me with literal rubbish!”

“This is a problem, Iris. Our clientele associate the letters MC&D with ostentatious wealth, and we cannot have that association besmirched by a fast-food franchise printing those letters all over its greased stained, cardboard takeout boxes!”

Iris sighed, a small part of her conceding that his concerns might not be completely inane, and picked up a paper cup to examine it.

“The McDonalds' in Canada, you said?”

“At least. I’ve been trying to get the market research team to look into if they’re doing this anywhere else, but they haven’t gotten back to me yet.”

“I can’t imagine why,” she murmured. “Well, it’s clearly meant to be read as ‘Mick Dee’.”

“It doesn’t matter, it’s still MCD. Do you know what McDonald’s NYSE symbol is?”

“MCD?”

“Those are our letters dammit! People already call us Micky D’s sometimes, did you know that?”

“I’ve heard that before, yes.”

“There’s already an association in the eyes of customers between us and McDonald's, and their latest branding is blatantly reinforcing that association. Our brand must remain unsullied!”

“That being said, this is clearly a branding issue, and I’m Chief of Paratech Development and Acquisition. This is not my department.”

“You’re Darke’s proxy, and I need the support of another senior partner for this to move forward.”

“Meaning Marshall doesn’t support this?”

“He… did not consider it a pressing issue, no.”

“Alright Ruprecht, for the sake of argument let’s assume that McDonald’s branding itself as McD is tarnishing our brand and this is impacting our bottom line. What would you have us do about it? They’re known almost universally, whereas we take it as a point of pride that the ninety-nine percent have never even heard of us. I doubt there’s any legal action we could take.”

“So did I, but I went to the A-78s just to be sure.”

“And what did they say?”

Carter took out the note from his pocket they had handed him earlier.

Brandname doublemake
Burgers and fries = glittering gold?
Illrepute indistinct, supersized portfolio

“… Well, there you go.”

“This is intolerable! We were around for nearly a hundred years before those discount beef peddlers, longer if you count all of Darke’s wheelings and dealings before our merger. The name is rightfully ours! I’m not about to just let this indignity go unchallenged.”

“Well, you seem to have already given the matter more thought than I would care to. What do you suggest?”

“We’re the most powerful firm in the world. Surely it would be trivially easy to get McDonald’s to rebrand themselves,” Carter suggested.

“Not as easy as it would be to rebrand ourselves. Darke & Dark has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?”

“Maybe for an emo-punk music label,” Carter retorted. “Besides, changing our name would be even worse. Imagine what people would say! Marshall, Carter, and Dark, cowed into submission by McDonald's. We’d lose our mystique! No no no no no, that won’t do at all. Forget changing their name, we should drive them out of business and send a clear a message about what happens to anyone that even indirectly diminishes our profits. You can write some sort of algorithm or something that can plunge their stock value, can’t you?”

“Conceivably, but -”

“Great, that’s your new project! Good meeting, productive meeting. I’m going to go for a steam, shoot me a memo when it’s good to go.”

“Carter, get back here!”

Carter slinked to a halt and reluctantly turned around to face Iris.

“Carter, even if it was worth my time to create such a program, which it isn’t, do you not think there might be some serious economic repercussions to bankrupting the richest fast-food franchise on the planet?” she asked. “Do you not think that a worldwide recession might impact our profits a tiny bit more than some bad brand recognition?”

“Short term, sure, but the economy always bounces back. Plus recessions are inevitable anyway, so why not engineer one to get some use out of it?”

“Carter, I am not manipulating the global economy to drive McDonald's out of business just because they share our initials,” Iris said resolutely.

For an instant, Carter looked like he might argue with her, looked like he might try to put her in her place, looked like he would scream that he was one of the company's founders and she was glorified tech support, but he stopped himself. As much as he hated subordinating himself to a woman, to a youth, to anyone really, he dared not forget that she was a Dark.

“No, no, of course not,” he sighed, hanging his head in defeat. “Something subtler then, perhaps?”

“Go to Market Research and have them figure out how much, if anything, this is costing us,” she replied. “That will be the budget for any counter-proposals. You can oversee the project since it’s obviously very important to you, and unlike myself, you don’t appear to have anything better to do. Prepare a presentation and we’ll have a vote at the next board meeting.”

Iris resumed typing at her keyboard, letting him know the discussion was over. Carter clenched his fists and gritted his teeth, but also held his tongue. She had given him more satisfaction than Marshall had, at any rate. Pining for the days when Darke’s seclusion and Marshall’s immobility had made him the de facto head of the company, he turned to leave.

“Ruprecht,” Iris called out before he had made it to the door. “Clean this garbage off my desk.”

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