Bimbo Banter


BIMBO Nominees for April 2009


  • Bimbo
  • April 1, 2009
  • by Spaeth Communications

Bimbo blog image c

WINNER from the “WRONG THING TO SAY” 

“…do one of two things: resign or go commit suicide,” Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, advised the leaders of AIG on a local radio show talking about the controversial “bonuses” awarded to company personnel. (This not only illustrates how a word, “suicide,” will be repeated over and over, it’s a stunning display of lack of leadership and mob baiting. Having argued repeatedly against “retention bonuses” for people with no where to go, executive bonuses when companies are downsizing and asking employees to make sacrifices, we consider ourselves in the forefront of business arguments about bonuses. Knowing full well that many people receiving bonuses had been recruited to help clean up the mess, he chose to deliberately pour gasoline on the public’s fire of outrage. He should be ashamed. Maybe he should commit…)

AP, “Grassley: AIG execs should quit or commit suicide,” March 17, 2009

ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF THE “WRONG THING TO SAY”

“…that homophobe Antonin Scalia has too many votes on this current court,” Congressman Barney Frank, D-Mass., told a magazine in a discussion about gay marriage. (Another appalling display of venom. Can one feel that redefining marriage is a very large legal step which deserves a great deal of civil debate without being castigated as hating people of same sex orientation? The article went on to note that Justice Scalia’s dissent from the 2003 Court case about a Texas sodomy law was part of a longstanding belief that elected officials, not judges, should legislate – make laws – on issues the Constitution does not address.)

MSNBC, “Rep. Barney Frank calls Scalia a ‘homophobe,’” March 23, 2009

WINNING BIMBO

“We do not have a time bomb at GE Capital,” said Keith Sherin, GE chief financial officer, trying to reassure shareholders about its balance sheet. (Classic bimbo. Remember what happened to Bear Stearns last year when their CEO, on the same TV network, insisted, “Bear Stearns does not have a liquidity problem.”)

The New York Times, “GE Finance Chief Calls Market Fears ‘Overdone,’” March 5, 2009

RUNNER-UP BIMBOS

“I’m not trying to be racist about it,” said Detroit City Council President Monica Conyers, wife of Congressman John Conyers, D-MI, explaining her opposition to a change of management for a local exhibition center because she did not see people who “look like me,” e.g., are African-American. (The proposal transfers the local exhibition center to a regional authority prepared to invest $288 million for expansion. Ms. Conyers apparently doesn’t have to try to be racist. Note also how the headline repeats the word ‘racist’ but rewords what Council President Conyers actually said.)

The Detroit News, “Monica Conyers: I am not racist,” March 4, 2009

“No one’s pushing an agenda,” said famed legal scholar, speaker and writer for The New Yorker, Jeffrey Toobin, about the congregation of writers from the left who share an online discussion daily, JournoList. (Politico.com wrote about contacting three dozen contributors to ‘JList,’ most of whom refused to talk to them but then posted blog comments confirming they had declined to speak. Our question-- How do these people find the time for these endless debates and postings?)

Politico.com, “JournoList: Inside the echo chamber,” March 17, 2009

WRONG THING TO SAY and BLURRING OF NEWS CHANNELS

“Mind your g-------d business,” said Congressman Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., when stopped by one of the new breed of citizen journalist/bloggers to ask about the congressman’s taxpayer paid Cadillac DeVille, his four rent stabilized apartments, including one used as a campaign office (two direct violations of the law), his 50 percent discount on those already below-market rents courtesy of the real estate owner, and his failure to pay taxes on rental income from a condo in the Dominican Republic. (The ‘reporter’ intercepted the congressman with questions on these topics, obtained the obscenity laced quote, posted the written text and video on hotair.com and published a print piece, as a “special correspondent.” A reminder that the print and electronic press have blurred and that one comment is likely to be recycled multiple times.)

The Examiner, “Rangel to taxpayers: ‘Mind your own [expletive deleted] business,’” March 11, 2009

“I think when you talk about virginity and sex publicly, people just automatically picture you naked. And as much as I can prevent people picturing me naked, I’m going to,” said singer-songwriter Tailor Swift in a magazine article about how she writes songs. (We have news for Ms. Swift; she’s the one, ah, stripping the mystery off her writing and that’s the naked truth. If you don’t want people talking about it, don’t repeat it.)

People Magazine, “Taylor Swift: I don’t want to talk about sex,” March 17, 2009

“We’ve been called idiots before,” said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, at a news conference explaining why President Obama was making the rounds of late night talk shows, town meetings, etc. and was not getting ‘off message.’ (Mr. Gibbs still doesn’t understand that you don’t compete with yourself at press briefings. Each gaffe like this will be a headline, crowding out whatever he really meant to highlight.)

Rawstory.com, “Gibbs laughs off notion Obama now ‘off message,” March 20, 2009

“I’m not proud of what I had to do,” said Jason Mesnick, Bachelor reality participant, after publicly dumping the woman he had proposed to on-air, to choose the second place “winner.” (Mesnick noted that people probably thought, “This guy is a jerk,” and he’s certainly correct. His defense was that it was in his contract. Perhaps the fact that this behavior was cruel and humiliating should have been a clue not to do it.)

People Magazine “Jason: I’m not proud of what I had to do,” March 3, 2009

“I’m an imbecile. She couldn’t date an imbecile any more,” said late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, about why his girlfriend broke up with him. (Right on target. We praise his self-awareness as we wonder why he would want to continue to claim the accolade.)

MSN, “Jimmy Kimmel on breakup: “I’m an imbecile,” March 9, 2009

“It’s certainly not a reflection of my incompetence,” said sports agent Alvin Keels, responding to criticism that he allowed tackle Andre Smith to show up at an NFL draft event unprepared and producing an uninspiring performance. (Smith’s appearance triggered a controversy about 29-year-old Keels’ ability to handle a potential NFL star, which Smith, an Alabama offensive tackle, was supposed to be. Smith caused discussion when he left an earlier NFL event unexpectedly and without explanation. This is a good example of why sports agents and their clients need media training. Keels actually had a number of good quotes in the articles, “My credibility speaks for itself,” “At the end of the day, we’re in this together,” but they competed with the “incompetence” quote and some ugly exchange about race.

Birmingham News, “Questions about Smith also reflect on his agent,” March 12, 2009

Birmingham News, “Smith does his best to impress NFL scouts,” March 12, 2009

“There are millions of people who think what we do is just awful,”  said Jerry Dincin, head of Final Exit Network, a right-to-die group whose leadership was arrested on charges of helping people commit suicide by holding their hands down after lethal gas started flowing. (Dincin said the group differentiated from Dr. Jack Kevorkian, adding “Assisted suicide is Jack Kevorkian putting a needle in someone with a deadly substance. We provide information which we think is protected under the First Amendment.”)

The New York Times, “Arrests Draw New Attention to Assisted Suicide,” March 11, 2009

“Some newspapers and blogs around the world were screaming ‘bailout,’" said George Borst, chief executive officer of Toyota Financial in the U.S. trying to explain why government funds from Japan were not a ‘bailout’ because they were not going to be used for operational purposes. (Another example of how the word, ‘bailout,’ is going to crowd out whatever the other explanation was. If he doesn’t want “it” to be called a “bailout,” don’t use the word. Also, Borst made the comment in the company’s own blog, and predictably, it instantly was picked up by the media, another example of how channels are blurring.)

Bloomberg, “Toyota says Finance Unit Isn’t Seeking Japanese ‘Bailout’ Loan,” March 7, 2009

A West Virginia lawmaker introduced a bill to “ban sales of Barbie,” the iconic Mattel doll celebrating her 50th birthday, saying he thought she sent the wrong message to girls. Delegate Jeff Eldridge, D-Lincoln County, admitted “I knew a lot of people were going to joke about it and poke fun at me. I couldn’t get anybody to sign on the bill with me.” (We’ve seen veterinarian Barbie, pilot Barbie, teacher Barbie, cheerleader Barbie, doctor Barbie, and we even had a Media Training Barbie. What we really need is Congresswoman Barbie, and maybe that would improve our elected officials’ performance.)

MSNBC.com, “Ditch the doll? Lawmaker targets Barbie,” March 4, 2009

EXAMPLE OF HOW WORDS GET PICKED UP:

State Senator Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, Okla.,  introduced a bill to audit the state Department of Education. In the press report, he protested, “Why would I want to hamstring the agency?”  The article is followed by reader comments – typical today – one of which says, “Mr. Jolly admits he wants to ‘hamstring’ the agency…”

NewsOk.com, “Sen. Clark Jolley denies designs on office,” March 7, 2009

EXAMPLE OF THE LIMIT OF WORDS

Convicted financier Bernard Madoff read a long statement in court as he was sentenced. The apology and acceptance of personal responsibility was moving. Claiming to be “deeply sorry and ashamed,” and professing that all his other businesses were ”legitimate, profitable and successful in all respects,” there’s one problem with this. Not a word of it is believable. (The reason we’re not impressed is that Mr. Madoff is reportedly sitting on approximately $70-80 million in assets. While it’s not much compared to $50-60 billion, if he were that contrite, he would be hastening to contribute it to compensate his victims.)

The New York Times, “Text of Bernard Madoff’s Court Statement,” March 12, 2009

EMAIL EXAMPLE OF THE MONTH

Los Alamitos mayor, Dean Grose, received an email with a doctored photo of the White House in front of a watermelon patch and a sign, “No Easter egg hunt this year.” As he routinely does with emails with quotes, pictures, videos and anecdotes in his personal and private email, he hit “forward” and sent it to a few friends. A few of them were outraged. The controversy caused Mr. Grose, whose city is a suburb of Los Angeles, to announce he would resign. (A reminder of our simple test for emails and Tweets before hitting “send” or “forward.” Does it contain a “bad word?” A story about someone else? In this case, the “watermelon” patch qualified as ‘bad.’ A second reflection may save your job.)

The New York Times, “A Mayor steps down over joke in e-mail,” Feb. 28, 2009

TWITTER

In just a few short months, Twitter has emerged as a new communication channel. Each month, we’ll include Twitter news and examples of good and bad uses.

THE BAD EXAMPLE

In Philadelphia, a juror in a high profile trial of a state Senator for corruption was interrupted when the judge discovered the juror posting their updates on Facebook, even advising friends to “Stay tuned for a big announcement on Monday.”  (This genie will be very hard to put back in the bottle. Perhaps state courts will take away cell phones and Blackberries as Federal courts do. The issue is broader than trials. People are twittering at meetings and sharing comments being discussed which then take on a finality not intended.)

MSNBC.com, “Jurors’ Twitter posts worry trial lawyers,” March 17, 2009

BAD EXAMPLE…BUT A GOOD LINE

Dallas Maverick’s owner Mark Cuban was fined $25,000 after using Twitter to complain about the officiating during his team’s 103-101 loss to the Denver Nuggets. Cuban was upset that a call wasn’t made against one of the other players. Again, Twitter encourages the Tweeter to share whatever pops into his brain – and share it widely. Cuban did have a good line adding that it was no longer true that “…[you] can’t say no one makes money from twitter now. the nba does.”  He delivered the line in a Tweet.

FoxSports.com, “Maverick’s owner Cuban fined $25,000, March 30, 2009

GOOD EXAMPLE

Barbie celebrating her 50th birthday and tweeting about the events in her honor!

HUMOR IN THE WORKPLACE CATEGORY

We’re also adding a regular example of why humor in the workplace is a healthy part of the business landscape.

In their new book, The Race for a New Game Machine, David Shippy and Mickie Phipps describe the long and problem-filled process of creating a new mega computer chip. Not just a technical “how to,” the authors believe the book provides “management lessons.” And note that he  tries to hire engineers who are skilled “with a sense of fun,” because they’re more effective.

Business Week, “The Brain of a New Machine,” Feb. 23, 2009

THE POWER OF PUBLICITY

Just look at the outcry over the discovery that Farasi, a baby hippo born in the Basel Zoo last fall, was one hippo too many and that baby animals that are not needed for display were routinely euthanized and fed to the zoo’s carnivores. Farasi, all 250 cuddly pounds of him, became a European and international star. As Farasi gained a fan club, zoo officials relented and said Farasi would live. (European zoos allow animals to reproduce “naturally” rather than employing birth control. Who knew that condoms for kangaroos or birth control pills for panthers were ‘unnatural?’ Seems better than giving “hungry hungry hippo” a new meaning.)

MSNBC.com, “Celebrity hippo calf won’t be fed to zoo’s tigers,” March 13, 2009

AND ANOTHER NEW SECTION-- BEST VIRAL OR PERSON-TO-PERSON EXAMPLE

T-Mobile filmed a commercial at the Liverpool Street Tube Station in London. Dancers, who looked like regular passengers, started dancing and dancing. Regular passengers joined in. Sure enough, people started whipping out their cells phones and taking pictures to pass on. The T-Mobile logo only pops up at the very end. Very creative and very successful. This is a good example of what we call ‘enlistment,’ where the speaker or customer ‘enlists’ an audience to pass something on.


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