No April Fools here, we really did have this many BIMBOs! Throughout all our different categories we have running themes: executives, those in the political sphere and Twitter examples dominate this month. We also offer leadership advice, our favorite video example and commentary on the expanding power of Snapchat.
THE WINNING BIMBO
“I’m not denying that I wasn’t totally forthcoming,” said Ben Wickham, president and co-founder of Hamilton Trading Group, a Virginia-based research group staffed by retired CIA officers with special backgrounds in Russian affairs. (HTG denied that payments from the RNC had anything to do with the group’s attempts to prove conflicts of interest within the Clinton campaign. Wickham eventually admitted the payments were used to demonstrate that former Sec. Clinton had intervened in eastern European and Middle Eastern countries. HTG tried to claim the payments were for security assessments of the RNC building. The group continued to raise eyebrows as it was revealed that one of their employees, Gennady Vasilenko, was a former KGB agent. Wickham explained, “Gennady has very good contacts in Russia.” We bet he does.
Politico, “RNC paid intel firm for Clinton dirt,” March 23, 2017
“It’s not about being sinister,” said Alexander Nix, chief data officer of Cambridge Analytica. The firm claimed it had next-frontier-level capabilities to create individual voter approaches. (Aiming to cash in on the Trump win, Cambridge Analytica is trying to backpedal its claims of triumph in the campaign. Nix continued, “It’s not about tricking people into voting for someone they wouldn’t otherwise support.” Having over-claimed their contribution, they should have walked away from the hype earlier.)
The New York Times, “Data Firm Says ‘Secret Sauce’ Aided Trump; Many Scoff,” March 6, 2017
“Just because I called the escort service doesn’t mean I paid for sex,” insisted Thomas Davis, former chairman of Dean Foods, during a trial in which he was a government witness testifying against a big time gambler. (This whole story belongs on reality TV. The defendant’s lawyer charged Davis had repeatedly lied, a charge Davis agreed with, saying “I have said quite clearly that I lied to everybody.” We can’t wait to see what the jury decides. And we remember that mobster John Gotti’s lawyer got him off when the government had him through wiretaps ordering murders. The defense showed that the government’s witnesses were themselves guilty of a long list of crimes ranging from murder to pistol whipping a priest.)
The New York Times, “Credibility of Key Witness Questioned in Gambler’s Insider Trading Case,” March 23, 2017
“I don’t lose sleep over our ability to manage it,” said the interim chief executive of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. (Daniel Weiss is trying to fix a huge budget hole in the Museum’s expenditures and rein in its expansion. This was a great article with great photos and he blew the chance to have a good quote. He should have said, “I’m optimistic about the future and we have an ambitious but workable plan.” Additional note: Weiss also apparently said the Met didn’t face layoffs. The Times did him a favor and didn’t make that the lead quote, but he should have said, “Our staffing levels are currently very solid.”)
The Wall Street Journal, “A New Plan at the Metropolitan Museum,” March 21, 2017
“Muslims aren’t a tumor in the body of America,” said Dalia Mogahed, a Muslim academic, during a TED talk. (This phrase became a tweet – from the @TEDTalks twitter feed. She did add, “We’re a vital organ,” but which is more memorable? “Tumor” or “vital organ?” Predictably, others picked up the line and reacted.
Twitter, March 27, 2017
“I am not a fascist,” tweeted Sean Hannity. This was in response to Chaz Bono who introduced the word “fascists.” (Hannity took the bait and replied. His whole tweet was, “I have said many times we should NOT trust Putin. I embrace truth every day. I love my country and I am not a fascist. You r ignorant and dull.” Our preference would be to dial down the Twitter back and forth in most of our political discourse these days. Let’s put the word “fascist” on the shelf.)
Twitter, March 11, 2017
Below are two cases in which a BIMBO that was never spoken made it into the headlines.
“VP Pence: No, I’m not planning to take over the White House.” Earlier, Julian Assange tweeted about rumored plans for Vice President Pence to take over the White House. When asked by radio host Laura Ingraham, Pence responded perfectly, “I would dismiss that out of hand and tell you that I just…I’m so excited about the progress that we’ve been made strengthening this country, protecting this country, reviving this country’s economy and all credit goes to President Donald Trump.” It’s unfortunate the reporter chose not to use part of his real quote as the headline.
Hot Air, “VP Pence: No, I’m not planning to take over the White House,” March 14, 2017
CNN headlined an article “Sexism at Uber isn’t systematic” after an interview with Uber board member and Huffington Post co-founder Arianna Huffington. After she raised the issue and criticized the network, CNN changed the headline to “Arianna Huffington: Sexual harassment isn’t a ‘systemic problem’ at Uber,” although that’s actually not what she said either.
Mashable, “Arianna Huffington blasts CNN over misleading headline,” March 21, 2017
POWER OF WORDS
“I didn’t hear a word she said. I was looking at the James Brown wig,” said TV personality Bill O’Reilly about Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA.) (Even Bill O’Reilly had to respond to the predictable outrage over this crack. He apologized, saying “I respect Congresswoman Maxine Waters for being sincere in her beliefs. I said that again today on Fox & Friends calling her ‘old school.’ Unfortunately I also made a jest about her hair which was dumb. I apologize.” One suggestion: a number of people commenting had snarky comments about O’Reilly’s hairline. He could have poked fun at himself, putting one of the comments on the screen, and saying “Ouch,” and then having a picture of himself with Waters’ hair, adding “much better.”)
Mashable, “Bill O’Reilly attacks Maxine Waters’ hairstyle, triggering world’s largest eye roll,” March 28, 2017
Professors from Florida International University counted the number of times analysts complimented management on earnings calls by using phrases like “great quarter” or flattering words like “solid, amazing, incredible, phenomenal and tremendous” as a tool to gain access to management’s inside thinking. They analyzed 16,000 conference calls and found 3,000 examples of the phrase “great quarter.” (We sincerely hope they used software to obtain these findings. We can’t imagine wading through 16,000 conference calls, most of which are totally scripted.)
The Wall Street Journal, “Great Groveling, Guys: Counting All the Ways Analysts Fawn Over Management,” March 13, 2017
Sean Spicer finally provided much-needed humor when he commented that the President “can’t even eat Russian salad dressing” during persistent questioning from the press corps about the ongoing investigations and debate about alleged Russian meddling in the presidential campaign.
Politico, “Spicer: Trump can’t even eat ‘Russian salad dressing’ without scrutiny,” March 28, 2017
FUNNY – BUT TELLING
Michael Knowles published the ultimate book: “Reasons to Vote for Democrats: A comprehensive guide,” containing 266 blank pages. The Daily Wire correspondent has hit on something. The book is number one on Amazon and sports incredibly realistic testimonial quotes such as Ben Shapiro, saying “The most exhaustively researched and coherently argued Democrat party apologia to date.” We’re just jealous we didn’t think of it. Can a similar book, “Reasons to Vote for Republicans,” be far behind?
Daily Wire, “Trollmaster: Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles Pens Amazon’s #1 Best Selling Book. It’s Completely Blank,” March 9, 2017
The revolution happening before our eyes: we’re learning from our 20-something associates who are into Snapchat. This month The New York Times had an insightful article into what’s happening with the innovative company behind it all, Snap. “This is a company that’s betting on a long term trend: the rise and eventual global dominance of visual culture.” We recommend reading the full article and other viewpoints for a concise explanation of why and how Snapchat is revolutionizing communication. (Although I’m not sure I’m on board just yet. One of the articles, discussing the filters Snapchat provides, explained “rainbow vomit may mean you’re feeling great.”)
The New York Times, “Snap Makes a Bet on the Cultural Supremacy of the Camera,” March 8, 2017
EXAMPLE OF ENLISTMENT AND EMPOWERMENT
The high fashion industry produced a good example by encouraging their models to become social media moguls, noting that their followers went with them electronically from show to show. A good learning point, people love behind-the-scenes sneak peeks of the glamour business, looking at the fittings, hair and make-up appointments. Business can do this, too. Don’t just promote an event. Let the audience in on the behind-the-scenes discussions and, yes, sometimes chaos.
The Wall Street Journal, “Models Are Fashion’s Secret Social Media Weapons,” March 11, 2017
VIDEO STRATEGY OF THE MONTH
Yes, we know that there are millions of videos every day, but we want to point out small business owner Tim Nardone, who owns PriveCo, a company that makes bulletproof vests. To illustrate the vests’ potential, Nardone videotaped bullets going through racks of ribs, laptops, Valentine’s candy and, my personal favorite, one pumpkin after another until six pumpkins finally stop a bullet. The message is a perfect example of the power of visuals. Get his bulletproof vest or strap six pumpkins on your chest.
The Dallas Morning News, “Firms use videos to stand out,” March 5, 2017
There have been lots of comments about Uber CEO, Travis Kalanick, and his well-documented temper tantrum with one of his own drivers. It predictably generated demands that he seek counseling. Other commentators talked about the toxic culture Kalanick had created. Our view is that what Kalanick needs is the advice given to me by Judge William Webster, Director of the FBI. I asked him what my job description was and he said, “To make sure I hear things people think I don’t want to hear or that they don’t want me to hear.” Kalanick needs to commit himself to Judge Webster’s management advice – and listen.
The Washington Post, “Uber’s CEO says ‘I need leadership help.’ What should it look like?” March 1, 2017
The clear Twitter example this month is from United Airlines. After a passenger witnessed a gate agent tell several young teenagers they couldn’t board the flight while wearing leggings, the passenger took to social media which created a viral tweetstorm. Unfortunately she didn’t understand that the teens were flying free, or “non rev” in airline industry jargon, and that the airline has a moderate dress code for employees and their families and guests who fly free. The Twitter backlash raged for two days, finally dying down as most people – but not some notable celebrities – became aware of the true reason behind the controversy. Interestingly, some airline industry personnel joined the discussion to stick up for both the airline and the dress code. One wrote, “So to those trying to defend us and our families from the horrors of dressing neatly: Thanks but no thanks.” The whole incident is a good learning tool because United missed the opportunity right in the beginning to respond personally and with some humor and only tweeted, “The passengers this morning were United pass riders who were not in compliance with our dress code policy for company benefit travel.” They should take a lesson from how Southwest Airlines handled a situation years ago when a flight attendant tried to get a passenger with very skimpy attire and breasts swollen from surgery to cover up with a blanket. She stormed off – right onto national television. Southwest wrote an apology full of double meanings.
Reuters, “How two teens in leggings became a PR mess for United Airlines,” March 28, 2017
“Sorry Owen’s wife, you’re not helping yourself or your husband’s memory by standing there clapping like an idiot. Trump just used you,” tweeted Daniel Grillo, after President Trump’s address to the Joint Houses of Congress. Carryn Owens is the widow of navy SEAL William Owens who was killed in a raid in Yemen. As the president praised her husband, Owens had tears running down her face and could be seen whispering her husband’s name. Here’s the rub: Grillo was subsequently fired by his company, Liberty Advisor Group, after making the comments. While his comments were outrageous and hateful, we’re opposed to firing people for exercising free speech. Bring him back. And discuss other ways to express an opinion.
Chicago Tribune, “Chicago man’s tweet about widow of Navy SEAL killed in Yemen costs him job,” March 3, 2017
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