Bimbo Banter


BIMBO Nominees for April 2010


  • Bimbo
  • April 1, 2010
  • by Spaeth Communications

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This month we have several congressmen with classic BIMBOs and “Wrong Things to Say.” Also featured in this month’s FULL MEMO are the Boy Scouts of America, Michael Jackson’s mother’s lawyer on stun guns, and the head of the EU’s central bank. You decide if a businessman is being overly honest or just plain wrong with his business that takes care of pets that are “left behind.” We have the understatement of the month –and possibly the year- from Alan Greenspan on the recession. There are two really terrific lines from a journalist, and two good examples from Waste Management and Walmart. Also look for a Twitter example, and someone who is really friendly on Facebook.

BIMBO WINNER

 “We’re not ‘miserable,’” Memphis Mayor AC Wharton said in response to the Forbes “America’s Most Miserable Cities” list. (Forbes ranked Memphis third, citing crime and public corruption resulting in conviction. As a frequent traveler to Memphis, we agree with Mayor Wharton, but would have suggested different language. The Mayor also said, “I can point to a legion of government agencies, churches, volunteer groups and grass roots activists working together as one Memphis to find solutions.”  That’s a great quote! He added “We know who we are” but then, alas, he repeated “and miserable is not part of the definition.”  Note that “miserable” makes it into the headline. The mayor invites Forbes to visit, and we hope the publication accepts the invitation.)

Commercial Appeal, “Memphis Mayor AC Wharton assures Forbes, we’re not ‘miserable,’” March 1, 2010

RUNNERS-UP

“While “earmark” has become a dirty word in the eyes of many, it is, put simply, an explicit direction from Congress as to how certain funds should be spent,” Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawaii, tried to insist in an OpEd. (Sorry, Danny boy. Micromanaging public funds to direct them toward pet projects is a bad idea. Deceased House member John Murtha earmarked $112 million to for-profit companies that were clients of a lobbying firm that arranged $350,000 to seven pals in Congress. The House at least passed legislation prohibiting earmarks to for-profit companies, but Senator Inouye’s chamber promptly rejected the measure. Note how ‘earmark’ appears in the headline.)

USA Today, “‘Earmark’ isn’t a dirty word,” March 26, 2010

“Now they’re saying I groped a male staffer. Yeah, I did. Not only did I grope him, I tickled him until he couldn’t breathe,”  said Congressman Eric Massa, D-N.Y., during a strange few days when he tried to say he only used inappropriate language and that Democrats were leaking information because he opposed his own party on health care. Finally he settled on the “tickling” language. (He resigned and the House ethics committee, a toothless paper tiger, dropped its investigation. We don’t think tickling is an offense requiring resignation but the Congressman used the word “groping.”)

MSNBC, “Massa admits tickling, denies sexual intent,” March 10, 2010

“Senator Ensign has stated clearly, he has not violated any law or Senate ethics rule,” said a spokesperson for the senator. (E-mails came to light that appear to suggest that the senator tried to find a job and clients for Douglas Hampton, the husband of Cynthia Hampton,  a former staffer with whom he had an affair. The senator’s parents also gave $96,000 to the Hamptons. What generous people! How kind! The FBI is investigating as are the Senate ethics investigators. Good thing the bureau is involved since “Senate ethics” is an oxymoron. The senator’s spokesperson, not satisfied with one BIMBO, went on to add, “If Doug Hampton violated federal law or rules, Senator Ensign did not advise him to do so, did not suggest that he do so, and did not cooperate with his doing so.” )

The New York Times, “More Messages Link Senator to Job Effort,” March 11, 2010

“There was no snub intended,” presidential adviser David Axelrod said about a reception for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that media reports called “frosty” because there was no press conference, no handshake, and Netanyahu was brought in through a side entrance. (This also illustrates the power of a bad word in the headline.)

World News Online, “Netanyahu denies reports a close aide slammed Obama as a ‘disaster’ in wake of meeting, March 29, 2010

WRONG THINGS TO SAY

“Unfortunately, child abuse is a societal problem and there is no fail-safe method for screening out abusers,” said the national spokesperson for the Boy Scouts of America. (The organization is defending itself in a trial in Oregon where a file of private records may be released to the public. The plaintiff’s claim is that the file documents decades of cover-up and proof of sexual abuse by Scout leaders. The Scout’s attorneys maintain that the files were kept to help the national organization keep track of offenders who may have changed names or moved to try to join another scout troop. Regardless of the specifics, this was a bad quote. The organization also released a statement saying that they had worked hard on awareness and prevention efforts including background checks, and the quote should have reinforced that. This is an example of perspective. It’s true there is no perfect method, but that’s not reassuring to parents who think that even one molester in an organization is one too many. The spokesperson should have used the quote to say that the Boy Scouts took their mission of trustworthiness seriously, and when they found someone who didn’t meet their standard, they pledged to act quickly.)

MSNBC, “Boy Scouts accused of sex abuse cover-up; ‘Perversion files’ kept secret by Scouts due to ‘confidential information,’” March 19, 2010

“I’m trying to figure out how to cash in on this hysteria to supplement my income,” said Bart Centre, founder of Eternal Earth-Bound Pets USA, a service that promises people who think they will be lifted by the Rapture, or Second Coming, that he will take care of their pets – for a fee – after they’re gone. (He so clearly regards the Rapture believers as suckers, and maybe he’s really on to something. A website, raptureready.com, reports 250,000 new visitors a month and the founders, who believe in biblical prophecy, confirm that pets will be left behind.  Centre only charges $110 for a ten year contract, adding “If we thought the Rapture was really going to happen, obviously our rate structure would be much higher.”)

Bloomberg BusinessWeek, “Judgment Day Care,” Feb. 22, 2010

“We don’t want to be the Lehman Brothers of the EU,” said European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet, urging Greece, which has a huge debt problem, not to appeal to the U.S.-based International Monetary Fund for assistance. (Ouch!)

Bloomberg, “Trichet Halts Greece’s Courting of IMF, Stirs European Tensions,” March 4, 2010

Michael Jackson’s mother’s lawyer released a statement in response to a report that Jermaine Jackson’s 13-year-old son threatened Blanket with a stun gun.  The statement said, “Blanket Jackson never saw or heard the stun gun. Neither did Paris Jackson. Prince saw the stun gun in the possession of security. There is no second stun gun.” (This is very strange. The family’s story is that Jermaine’s teenage son ordered the stun gun online and tested it out on a piece of paper. When security heard the sound, they confiscated it. Why is a 13 year old ordering a stun gun over the Internet? How did he pay for it? When it arrived, didn’t someone else look at the package? There’s something missing from this story.)

People.com, “Jackson Family: Blanket Never Threatened with Stun Gun,” March 2, 2010

“We have no reason to believe the shareholder will not be approved,” Bracewell & Giuliani attorney, Sandy Brown, said on behalf of his client United Community Bank about efforts to raise new capital required by the FDIC. (This lawyer should take a communication lesson from the bank’s new CEO, Mike Phillips. His quote about the bank’s efforts to raise funds was “We’re still rolling.”  He also said, “We’re very fortunate,” pointing out that 70 percent of existing stockholders have reinvested.  Brown’s comment should have eliminated the negative inversions.)

Dallas Business Journal, “United Community Bank reels in new funds,” March 26, 2010   

UNDERSTATEMENT OF MARCH, POSSIBLY OF 2010

This award goes to former Federal Reserve chairman, Alan Greenspan, for his comments in a paper for the Brookings Institution. In the paper, he documented the causes of the recession, declining to take any responsibility, and said when they saw problems, they assumed the problems were localized, and that when they recognized the problems, “Regrettably, we did little to address the problem.” (This paper should make normal people— taxpayers— furious. He suggests that “the super smart elites” weren’t to blame; It’s that too many people wanted to buy homes. It’s our fault! Not a word about what happened to lending standards, not to mention some predatory practices are mentioned.)

MSN Money, “Greenspan: I didn’t start housing bubble,” March 18, 2010

GREAT LINES

We like to recognize great writing, particularly great leads, and Mark Gilbert’s story in BusinessWeek titled “In Defense of Goldman. Really; Loopholes in EU rules, not Goldman Sachs, are to blame for Europe’s debt troubles” begins “This time, the vampire squid is innocent.”

Bloomberg BusinessWeek, “In Defense of Goldman. Really; Loopholes in EU rules, not Goldman Sachs, are to blame for Europe’s debt troubles,” March 15, 2010

“Celebrity apologies have become more common that anti-bacterial hand-sanitizers,” writes Dallas Morning News blogger Evan Grant, about Ranger manager Ron Washington’s admission that he used cocaine once—last summer.

Dallas News Sports Day, “The Ron Washington drug affair: Digesting and processing the key points of one of the strangest days in Ranger history,” March 18, 2010

TWITTER EXAMPLES

“We’re celebrating a new company safety record this week – 26 months and 10 million safe work hours,” tweeted electric provider Luminant. (This is a good example. When they have an accident or problem, are they going to tweet that, too? If not, their tweets are only less-than-credible PR.)

Twitter, March 2, 2010

“Amazing” was how Congressman Jared Polis, D-Colo., described Lady Gaga’s new music video on his Twitter feed. (The Lady Gaga video he’s so gaga about begins with her being stripped by prison guards and tossed into a prison cell.  There’s lots of bare skin, risqué dance moves, serial killing—well, you get the idea. Will she be dancing for a congressional committee next?  Rep. Polis is not alone; many members of the House and Senate are twittering away. Senator Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, tweeted about high school and college basketball, calling the players “girls” and was reminded they are “women.”)

Twitter, March 19, 2010

GOOD EXAMPLES

Positive comments continue to come to Waste Management’s President Larry O’Donnell who kicked off the surprise hit series, “Undercover Boss.” During the show, O’Donnell worked in different front-line Waste Management jobs each day. At the end of the day he wrote down what happened, what lessons needed to be learned, and what changes he wanted to make. On the last day, he went back to the corporate headquarters and began to implement changes based on what he’d experienced. One of the changes is to solicit advice from front-line employees before launching company-wide initiatives. He said, “Hopefully, we can avoid those unintended frustrations; we can figure those out on the front end rather than after we’ve already implemented something.”  News reports noted favorably that O’Donnell created a group of internal “health monitors,” tapping one of his ‘supervisors’ he worked under during the show to speak to other co-workers about preventive measures so they could avoid health problems

MSNBC, “‘Undercover Boss’ spurs shop-floor changes,” March 22, 2010

Another good example is how Walmart reacted when an announcement over their loud speaker in a New Jersey store ordered all black people to leave. Predictably, shoppers were horrified and angry and word spread quickly. Rather than wait to find out what had happened, Walmart immediately apologized saying it was unacceptable, and pledged to find out what had happened and share whatever they found with the public. A 16-year-old boy was discovered to have commandeered one of the courtesy phones. This is how a company has to react in this day of instant news, even before it knows all the facts. The county prosecutor “praised the company for their strong cooperation in the investigation,” and the NAACP, which has been critical of Walmart in the past, weighed in to say that the company has worked hard to show it cares about diversity.  The moral: Even bad news can be a platform for positive news.

MSNBC, “Police: Boy, 16, made racial comment at NJ Walmart,” March 20, 2010

FACEBOOK EXAMPLE

Kerri McMullen has several hundred friends on Facebook, and she told them she was heading out to hear a band. When she and her fiancé returned home, their house had been burglarized. A surveillance system took pictures of the crime and she posted the pictures on – where else? – Facebook where real friends noticed the guy looked very much like one of her Facebook friends. He was the culprit. Moral: Don’t be too “friendly” and don’t share too much personal information.   


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