Friday, December 09, 2005

Season's greetings from the Ministry of Truth.

This year, the holiday rush to find stuff to buy has more often than ever before put me face to face with the all-powerful unseen hand that guides much of the world’s commerce these days. It’s brand so ubiquitous and definitive that it has become a verb, so omnipotent that it has suits quaking from Madison Avenue to Hollywood.

These guys even read your email.

They read your message board posts. (They even read this blog. Hell, they OWN this blog). Not only do they know where you live, they also probably have a satellite picture of your house. They can single-handedly decide who and what matters in popular culture. They have pretty much all the money, and a plan to get the rest of it.

And we just love them to bits.

In fact, a survey reported in the Wall Street Journal this week said that Google enjoys the third best corporate reputation on the planet, behind pre-Cambrian titans Johnson & Johnson and Coca Cola.

It’s an astonishing testament to the power of good intentions to engender benefit of the doubt. Google’s well-publicized mission statement is “… to organize the world's information and make it universally useful and accessible." Somehow, we know this. We see it as a noble task, too. A mitzvah.

I mean, who doesn’t want to know things? Everybody wants to know things, cupcake. Answering questions is the biggest consumer market there is. And so, as we did with, say, President Bush’s war on terror for a while there, we forgive a few broken privacy eggs and the unseemly concentration of power.

As a brand guy, I stand in awe. With this much benefit of the doubt in the bank, a brand could get away with pretty much anything. Imagine how you’d feel about WalMart going through your garbage and you can see my point. But, in the words of Spiderman, with great power comes great responsibility. They can read my email as long as they find me the best price on snow tires or explain why the cat only barfs on the expensive rugs.

That’s the deal, Google. Remember, you’re not the only game in town. I’ve got teenagers.

They know everything.

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