I just watched the Domino's cheese-in-nose video shot and uploaded to YouTube by a couple of Domino's employees, and I have to say it made my blood run cold. It's one of the most stunning examples of internet/YouTube abuse I've ever seen.
And the brand custodian part of me didn't even become engaged. Long before that, the human being in me became enraged.
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Urban myths about employees in food outlets tampering with food abound. I was going to recount some of them, but I don't think it's fair, for the same reason you bring up your toddlers based on the "Once seen, never unseen" principle: Even the most apocryphal allusion to food tampering can powerfully remain in the psyche forever, to the potential harm of an innocent vendor.
But the problem is bigger than that. Food tampering has a psychic resonance because it sits in the middle of a fundamental human necessity and right: that of getting the nutrition we require to subsist. Few things in history have inspired so much charitable outpouring as feeding the hungry or ridding the world of disease. Food tampering pollutes both of those. It inspires a truly visceral reflex and contributes to a view of the world as an untrustworthy, un-nourishing place.
Personally I don't really do fast food. Lucky me. I am fortunate to have the time and resources not to have to. But the real sin of the repulsive duo in the Domino's video is that many, many people in this particularly trying economic time have absolutely no choice but to rely regularly on fast food, from the single mom with no time to the working stiff on a short break and an even shorter budget. Every one of them who sees this excruciating video, Domino's customer or not, will gag and wonder just a tiny bit about the trustworthiness of a meal tomorrow. It is in my view nothing less than a crime against working people.
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Mark Wnek is chairman-chief creative officer of Lowe, New York.