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!

1 comment:

Richard said...

Great post, problem is most people are not even thinking about this, they are too busy doing.