Bimbo Banter


BIMBO Nominees for April 2015


  • Bimbo
  • April 2, 2015
  • by Spaeth Communications

 

April brings us BIMBO comments from a spokesperson for Afghan president Ghani, General Electric’s CFO, and several elected officials on both sides of the aisle. We have examples of the really Wrong Thing to Say from the name partners of Dolce and Gabbana, a snarky washing label on a soccer shirt and an editor from Vogue. Former Rep. Aaron Schock learned there is such a thing as bad publicity. Several senators have no problem archiving emails—because they don’t send any—and Google Chairman Eric Schmidt forgot that actions speak louder than words.

THE WINNING BIMBO

“This is not some marketing or PR exercise,” said Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz to introduce a campaign to have baristas write “Race Together” on cups. (The reaction to the campaign was extremely negative, so much so that the company’s head of communication deleted his Twitter account to escape the criticism. At the same meeting, Starbucks also announced a stock split. The split was discussed for only minutes while the “Race Together” initiative generated 90 minutes of discussion. The problem? Of course it’s a “marketing and PR exercise” – and, if the goal was to be talked about, it certainly worked. Schultz closed out the “exercise” on March 22, saying “Let me assure you we didn’t expect universal praise.” Our own problem with the whole campaign or similar forums on race is that frequently an anecdote is absolutely not representative of the whole story.)

USA Today, “For Starbucks, a split and a jolt,” March 19, 2015

THE RUNNERS-UP

“I am by no means racist or xenophobic in any way,” wrote Leipzig University Biochemistry Professor Annette Beck-Sickinger responding to the furor caused by her message to a male applicant from India for an internship. The professor turned him down, writing, “We hear a lot about the rape problem in India which I cannot support. I have many female students in my group, so I think this attitude is something I cannot support.” (There are lots of lessons in this example. The rejection went viral when a colleague of the applicant posted it online. The university made things worse by trying to claim that the student was rejected only because no internships were available when the professor had written she would “not accept Indian male students” because of the “rape problem.” The German ambassador to India was outraged but unfortunately chose to make news with a letter saying, “India is not a country of rapists.” This is a classic example of the impact of bad words. Note that the words dominated the headline.)

The Washington Post, “German professor cites India’s ‘rape problem’ in rejection of Indian applicant,” March 9, 2015

“We cannot be gloating,” said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., in commenting on the Homeland Security win, which paused funding for the Department of Homeland Security despite some Republicans’ opposition. (Of course, he’s doing just that: gloating. And note the word dominated the headline.)

The Wall Street Journal, “Reid tells Democrats Not to Gloat After Homeland Security Win,” March 5, 2015

“It is not to monopolize and centralize power,” said a spokesman for Afghan president Ashraf Ghani about criticism that he was not decentralizing power but actually centralizing it. (It seems undeniable that President Ghani is doing just that, and it’s probably defensible. His spokesman also said, “The Afghan people and the international community want a government free of corruption, and we are committed to do that.” However, the other quote crowded out the anticorruption message.)

The New York Times, “Afghan Leader Said to Be Centralizing Power as Unity Government Plan Stalls,” March 20, 2015

“I am not being Pollyannaish in any way,” said General Electric Chief Financial Officer Jeff Bornstein about the company’s plans to deal with its heavy bet on its decision to go big into the oil drilling and processing business. (We’re not exactly sure what he meant. The CFO was warning investors that the business would be contracting. The Businessweek article discussing GE’s decision to invest heavily in the sector painted a more positive picture. The CFO should have made the point that GE has a great track record of managing difficult situations.)

Bloomberg Businessweek, “A Crude Awakening for General Electric,” March 12, 2015

“We don’t want to see this turned into some great political football,” said Secretary of State John Kerry before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived to speak to a joint session of Congress at the invitation of House Speaker John Boehner. (This was an ill-fated prediction. As we all now know, the PM’s appearance became an international “political football,” culminating in Netanyahu’s solid win in Israel’s recent elections despite the administration’s public comments and encouragement of former Obama campaign operatives assisting. What was it that impresario Billy Rose said? “Never make predictions, especially about the future.” The secretary also welcomed the PM, but that message ended up competing with the “political football” comment, another example of how a speaker needs to stick to one message.)

The Weekly Standard, “Kerry Contradicts Administration: Bibi ‘Welcome to Speak in the U.S.,’” March 1, 2015

“I’m not indulging this bizarre fetish,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI, criticizing those critical of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s press conference defending her decision not to turn over her emails. (We’re not commenting on Clinton’s press conference other than to say it was a disaster, but we’re chuckling about her defense that she only wanted to carry one mobile device. Senator Whitehouse’s comment didn’t help.)

The Washington Post, “Some top Democrats are alarmed about Clinton’s readiness for a campaign,” March 11, 2015

“We can’t create a perfect system,” said Texas State Senator Joan Huffman, R-Houston. (Probably bewildering to the public, what’s going on here is that Republicans are fed up with the Travis County (Austin) Public Integrity Unit targeting them over the years. Public corruption charges are brought in the county where they occur, so the capital, Austin, gets all the fun. Virtually all the charges are dismissed, but they make great headlines. Sen. Huffman introduced a bill, which diverts such charges to the State Attorney General’s office. We think this is a good idea. We’re only pointing out that Senator Huffman’s comments were confusing and competitive. She also said that her proposal “will give the public more confidence in the process.” She should have stuck to that line.)

The Dallas Morning News, “GOP senators vote in committee to strip corruption investigations from Democratic DA,” March 16, 2015

WRONG THING TO SAY

“I call children of chemicals, synthetic children, rented uterus, semen chosen from a catalog,” said Domenico Dolce of Dolce and Gabbana in an interview where he and Stefano Gabbana said they oppose gay couples adopting children or using in-vitro fertilization. (Wow. This falls into the think before you speak category. Dolce and Gabbana, who are both gay, generated a furor because of this comment. Celebrities like singer Elton John called for a boycott, which prompted Dolce to call him a “fascist” which is, if nothing else, factually incorrect. The call for a boycott immediately rallied celebrities around the world. Predictably, the D&G founders hastily backtracked and claimed they weren’t passing judgment on others. The apologies and explanations, posted on Instagram, were fine but lacked credibility because they were totally different from the original comments.)

The New York Times, “Remarks on Family by Dolce and Gabbana Bring Swell of Criticism,” March 16, 2015

“Give this jersey to your woman. IT’S HER JOB,” read the washing label in a Pusamania Borneo soccer jersey made by Salvo Sports Apparel. (Whoops. The company garnered the wrath of women around the world. The company then reacted with a BIMBO comment: “There’s no intention to humiliate women. In contrast, [we want to tell the men men] learn from women on how to take care of clothes because they pay attention to details.”)

People, “Shirt Comes with Sexist Washing Instructions: ‘Give This Jersey To Your Woman,’” March 13, 2015

SOCIAL MEDIA

An editor at the toney magazine Vogue posted a picture of a homeless person in Paris on Instagram. The homeless person appeared to be reading a copy of the magazine, and the editor wrote, “Paris is full of surprises…and @voguemagazine readers even in unexpected corners!” (Not clear whether the picture was posed, but it certainly was eye opening. Vogue took the photo down quickly, showing they agreed with commenters that the photo was distasteful.)

CNN, “Photo on Vogue editor’s Instagram deleted amid criticism,” March 9, 2015

Elizabeth Taylor is supposed to have said “There’s no such thing as bad publicity,” but Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., discovered otherwise. After a humorous profile in the Washington Post about his unusual office decorations, influenced by Masterpiece Theater’s Downton Abbey, people began asking questions about who paid for the opulent fixtures. Turns out taxpayers did. That discovery led to more questions – and more answers — about mileage reimbursements from his campaign account, flights on private jets and attendance at expensive concerts. (While we don’t approve of Schock’s behavior, it led to a much darker series of exchanges. Apparently the congressman isn’t married, is a workout enthusiast and has no female companions. This led people like former Rep. Barney Frank, R-MA, to claim Schock must be gay. Schock’s father gave an incredibly odd interview saying his son was “strange” but not gay.)

CNN, “Aaron Schock resigns amid scandal,” March 18, 2015

What’s one of the signs of power? You never send an email – because your acolytes, or staff, do it for you. In the aftermath and controversy over Hillary Clinton’s retention of her emails as Secretary of State, it turns out that a number of other senators from both parties never send emails. This is a bipartisan repudiation of modernity including Senators Lindsay Graham, R-SC, Charles Schumer, D-NY, and John McCain, R-Ariz. (I’ll bet if we check the Blackberries and iPhones of their aides, we would find they’re handling the minute-to-minute communication for them.)

The New York Times, “Storing Emails From These Senators Will Be Easy, if They Ever Send Them,” March 1, 2015

ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS

Appearing on a panel about the need for more diversity in the tech industry, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt was very vocal – so much so that he continually interrupted the U.S. Chief Technology Officer, Megan Smith. Being polite, Smith refrained from acknowledging Schmidt’s bad behavior, but others attending commented on the disparity between being on a panel urging that more women were needed in the industry while interrupting the sole woman on the panel with him.

The Wall Street Journal, “Thoughts on Gender Equality in Tech, Interrupted,” March 16, 2015



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