I found Tom Cunniff on the OT List, a group of industry professionals that have been working in advertising for a while ... ergo "Old Timers" or OT. But don't let the name fool you ... these pros are on the bleeding edge of new media channels and have the unique power to bring both "old" media and new media together.

Tom is VP Digital Director at Combe Inc and has an infrequent blog here.

In a recent letter to the OT group, Tom shared with us a "typical" dinner date with his wife. The evening follows .....

My wife and I have been going to the same sushi place in our NYC
neighborhood for years.

Everybody on the wait-staff knows us by name. When we sit down, we chat
and catch up a bit on each others' lives. Then the waiter asks if we
want the usual, which we usually do.

We love this. It's personal. It's about making us feel comfortable and
well-served. It's about a business relationship between us and that

But imagine how we'd feel if we knew that as we talked, our waiter was
recording everything we said and did and then contacting every
business in our neighborhood to tell them about our behavior.

"Here's what Tom ate, what new Barbara tried, and what they both
spilled on their clothes. I overheard them saying they're going to
Paris for 9 days. Barbara said she's exhausted. Tom said he needs to
get back to the gym -- and I could see he has sure packed on some
pounds lately! -- but that didn't stop him from ordering dessert. They
had a pretty heated discussion about some business thing Tom wants to

Now imagine us being pitched by every liquor store in our neighborhood
to try other sakes. By every dry cleaner for a discount on soy sauce
stain removal. By every car service for a trip to the airport, and by
every French restaurant. By every deli trying to sell Red Bull or
coffee to my exhausted wife. By every gym in the neighborhood AND
every bakery in the neighborhood about my weight gain. And by every
local marriage counselor, on top of all that.

It's completely impersonal. It's about telling strangers our
vulnerabilities. It's clearly much more about the restaurant serving
itself instead of serving us.

Can business educate me to feel good about that?

Can business educate me that my wife and I have never really had any
privacy in the first place, and that all of these are a natural
by-product of going anywhere in public and having a quiet

Can business educate me to believe that business won't someday
redefine "public" to include the lobby of our apartment building, the
garbage that has been collected outside of it, and anything that can
be seen in the "public" areas of our apartment by a UPS delivery guy?

Here's the best defense I can muster.


Dear Public,

You have no reason to worry. In your heart, you know you can trust all
of our institutions -- especially big business like Enron, Bear
Stearns and BP -- to do the right thing. Just look at their track
record and you will be instantly reassured.

And besides, everything they do is completely transparent: it's
disclosed in multiple 900 page privacy policies strewn across multiple
websites written in multiple dialects of impenetrable legalese.

How wonderful it is to have this issue settled. Here, have a cookie!


Late last year a couple of chicks got together and decided to break away from the mother hen. As they matured into adulthood, they recognized their health needs were different from the older hens. And so they set off to establish a community of chicks that had common health questions.... ChickRx.com was the result.

Born from one of the WebMd ribs, ChickRx is a new start-up focusing on everyday health issues, but not intended to offer up serious medical advice (see your doctor for that).

The founders, two twenty-something "chicks" felt a need for a health website targeting their demographic. Founders Stacey Borden and Meghan Muntean (both 26) describe ChickRx as Daily Candy-meets-WebMd.

No traffic stats yet for this newly launched site but we would like your opinion.

Is there a real need for another health site catering to twenty-somethings? Visit the site here and let us know below.


The warning signals are out and they do not bode well for 3D TV or 3D film makers.

Having already invested billions, electronics manufacturers, production companies and Hollywood are bracing for a win or lose jackpot.

But what’s at the end of the rainbow may very likely turn out to be fools gold.

A report by the Financial Times yesterday pointed to a nervous set at Hollywood as many of the 3D releases simply flopped. The hype of Avatar, Alice in Wonderland and Clash of the Titans did not spill over to releases like Cats and Dogs which was panned by critics.

Overlooking the constraints of consumer spending in an economic downturn, 3D movie releases demand a 50% premium over 2D ticket prices. What are they thinking?

Short term vision has blurred reality as greed set in. 3D is a dimension looking for an audience that exists for the short term ….. until the novelty wears off.

And while Hollywood sits on the edge of their theater seat, companies the likes of LG, Sony and Samsung dove into the third dimension with huge investments in hardware.

Gizmodo reports that the sale of 3D TV units in Japan are not up to par. One year into marketing the units, prices are down by 20% and sales are not nearly predictive of a viable market. Yet the manufacturers are blindly predicting "millions of sets" will be sold in the coming year.

Say it often enough and you might come to believe it's true!

IDo believe in 3D, I DO believe in 3D, I DO believe in 3D ......


Running late for a meeting in Connecticut, I pulled up to a drive through window at McDonald's and ordered an Egg McMuffin and a cup of coffee. Nothing extraordinary about it except for a declaration printed on the bag ....
"Great Breakfast Taste. We make sure of it. Every single egg we use throughout the year is individually inspected - all 3 billion of them."
Now that's quite a statement that got me to thinking. How long does it take to inspect an egg? And how many people does it take to do so?

Here's the math with the assumption that an egg can be inspected in one second.

To inspect three billion eggs in one year would take three billion seconds. A quick search at WolframAlpha converts that number to a bit over 95 years. Assume the average worker puts in 250 days a year, it would take 138.7 man years to inspect that many eggs.

Does McDonald's really employ almost 139 "egg inspectors"? I put a call into their corporate office. Their response follows.

"All of the fresh Grade A eggs used for the Egg McMuffin sandwiches are inspected at the farm. Eggs are washed with warm water before being inspected both visually and electronically for any cracks and flaws. Checked eggs are then packed for shipment to the McDonald’s restaurants. So yes, every single egg is inspected before it makes the Egg McMuffin grade!"

So the promise that every egg is individually inspected is stretching the truth. And your average consumer would assume that the eggs are inspected by hand before they hit the griddle.

Can we please get back to Harry McCann's search for "Truth Well Told'?


Once the focal point of social networking and a former stepchild of Time Warner, AOL may be writing its final chapter as a viable business. Spun off buy Time Warner in the fourth quarter of last year and declaring it's IPO status the same day, AOL (NYSE) is facing a tenuous future.

The chart that follows illustrates its revenue declines over the past few years. As subscribers leave (who needs a middleman to connect with the net?), ad dollars are sure to decline as well.

Click on the chart to enlarge.

What went wrong?

Is Time Warner to blame? Since its merger with the company in 2001, a decline of the value of the company was set in motion. Controversy concerning operations, billing disputes, account cancellation "scams" and subsequent investigations did not help its cause.

AOL was becoming a company in search of a purpose.

AOL is a matured company in a failed marriage that has not been able to keep pace with the shifting dynamics of a digital landscape. Its management is likely to blame, taking their eyes off the real prize ..... people.

Building a huge following with little regard for the followers (are you listening Facebook?) is a perfect recipe for failure.

It was fun while it lasted ....

AOL's stock graph since its IPO follows ....

Click image to enlarge