Bimbo Banter


BIMBO Nominees for August 2017


  • Bimbo
  • August 2, 2017
  • by Spaeth Communications

Bimbo blog image d

We’re living in a target rich environment, and this month the BIMBOs keep coming. We dive into the power of a negative word with examples from Silicon Valley venture capitalist Dave McClure, New York City Council candidate Thomas Lopez-Pierre, the CEO of Qatar Airways, online boutique BelleChic and Walmart. More examples of The Wrong Thing to Say from Ann Coulter and an ill-advised promotional campaign from Silver Airlines based on OJ Simpson’s parole. New Hampshire hastily rewrote a piece of legislation that unwittingly legalized murder for pregnant women. Fortunately, we get a break at the end with a good example from Toyota. 

THE WINNING BIMBO

“No one within the Trump campaign colluded,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. With apologies to our friends in the White House, this is an example of how a word – “collude” – became the foundation for several stories surrounding the president’s son Donald Jr. and son-in-law Jared Kushner. The word permeated the stories and the headlines. (“I did not collude,” was The New York Times headline the day of Kushner’s appearance before a senate committee, and it was echoed by the Associated Press, “No Russia collusion, Trump son-in-law Kushner tells Congress.” This illustrates the power of a negative word to drive a story. Note the word kept the story alive for two weeks. What should they have said? “All of my actions were appropriate and above board.”)

USA Today, “Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with Russian lawyer draws scrutiny of Congress,” July 10, 2017

THE RUNNERS-UP

“I’m not Steve Bannon,” said now-fired White House Communications Director, Anthony Scaramucci. This was the only comment we can respectfully reprint in the Memo. In a long rant, Scaramucci unloaded a profanity-laced series of comments. He later defended himself saying he made a mistake by trusting the reporter and that he was using “colorful language.” (No; I speak as the former Director of Media Relations for President Reagan and part of the communications team, and these were out-of-bounds comments. Scaramucci obscured the administration’s policy discussions during a week where healthcare was in a sink-or-swim situation on Capitol Hill. Plus, what did he think The New Yorker reporter would do? Write admiring comments about Trump? This is communications 101. Lastly, note that deadlines and traditional publishing schedules are gone. The New Yorker writer published his story of the Scaramucci phone call the same night. The winners? Headline writers who got a reason to publish normally out-of-bounds curse words – albeit with dashes.)

The New Yorker, “Anthony Scaramucci Called Me To Unload About White House Leaker, Reince Priebus And Steve Bannon,” July 27, 2017

“I’m not here about some cockamamie legacy that people talk about,” said California Governor Jerry Brown, announcing legislation extending the state’s cap-and-trade program and increasing penalties. (This is the third place winner because Brown also proclaimed to the senate committee that it “is the most important vote of your life” and if lawmakers don’t act it will be “a threat to organized human existence.” Normally, we like bold claims, but this was beyond believability.)

Los Angeles Times, “Gov.  Jerry Brown says the existence of humanity rests on his climate change deal,” July 13, 2017

“I am not a member of the deep state. I am not big government,” wrote a former employee of the Interior Department, Joel Clement, claiming he had been reassigned from his position as director of the Office of Policy Analysis at the U.S. Interior Department to senior adviser at the department’s Office of Natural Resources and Revenue as retribution for claiming that global warming is threatening coastal Alaskan Native American villages. (This is a window on the issues of free speech and job protection and the ability of an administration to have staff that supports their agenda. We agree with Clements who wrote, “Removing a civil servant from his area of expertise and putting him in a job where he’s not needed and his experience is not relevant is a colossal waste of taxpayer dollars.”

The Washington Post, “I’m a scientist. I’m blowing the whistle on the Trump administration,” July 19, 2017

“I will not be resigning,” said Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, reacting to protestors who took over a press conference announcing the resignation of Minneapolis police chief, Janee Harteau, after a police officer shot and killed a woman, Justine Damond, who had called 911 to report a potential attack or rape in the alley behind her house. Mayor Hodges has long been criticized in the past for her handling of police issues. Protestors took over Mayor Hodges’ press conference, making national news and calling for the Mayor’s resignation. She should have said, “I will serve my term and the citizens of Minneapolis.”

The New York Times, “Minneapolis Police Chief Forced Out After Fatal Shooting of Australian Woman,” July 21, 2017

THE WRONG THING TO SAY – POWER OF NEGATIVE WORDS

“I’m a creep,” said Dave McClure, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist who resigned after reports became public that he had propositioned a woman applying for a position at his firm. (This guy needs some serious self-awareness, writing on his company website that he had “Not assaulted anyone (that I’m aware of.)”  A partner at McClure’s firm, Elizabeth Yin, also resigned after it came out the company had covered up a separate instance of harassment by McClure. Another woman posted a comment that she had been propositioned by McClure and that “If someone uses their power as a VC to make repeated sexual, physical advances on women in a professional context, that goes way beyond being a creep.” We agree. We wonder if these guys get it yet.)

The New York Times, “A Backlash Builds Against Sexual Harassment in Silicon Valley,” July 3, 2017

“After discussion with my Jewish supporters, I have agreed to NO longer use the words ‘Greedy Jewish Landlords,’” tweeted New York City Council candidate Thomas Lopez-Pierre just a few weeks ago. He continues to unearth his own bad words. (In April, he first used the phrase “greedy Jewish landlord,” asserting they were using money from Israel to conduct an “ethnic cleansing” of black and Latino residents in Harlem. It’s clear he doesn’t care who he offends. When asked about the response of the Jewish community he said “Too bad. I don’t care…Only now am I realizing that Jewish people can’t seem to separate themselves from each other. An attack on greedy Jewish landlords is perceived to be an attack on all Jews. And you know what? Too bad.” We really have no advice for this guy. We’re amazed he has any Jewish supporters.

Haaretz, “This NYC Politician Says Blasting ‘Greedy Jewish Landlords’ Doesn’t Make Him an anti-Semite,” April 30, 2017 

“So there is no need for you to travel on these crap American carriers from Ireland. You know you will always be served by grandmothers on American airlines,” said Qatar Airways CEO, Akbar Al Baker, at an industry conference. (Al Baker’s comments made national news. So what did he expect? He insulted American companies, flight attendants and customers. Besides the sexist nature of the comments, Qatar Airways is trying to buy 10 percent of American Airlines. These comments guarantee thousands of letters to the regulators urging them to veto the purchase. So, it’s stupid business. Al Baker did apologize the next day, but it was so mealy-mouthed we won’t bother quoting it here. Jill Surdek, vice president of flight service at American, used the opportunity to do a great job getting American’s message out, saying “Our flight attendants are hired for their professionalism, dedication to safety and commitment to our customers. The result is that we have the absolute best trained, most dedicated and friendliest flight attendants in the business.” Thumbs up, American. Thumbs down, Qatar.)

Dallas Business Journal, “American Airlines blasts Qatar Airways CEO’s granny comments as ‘sexist and ageist,’” July 11, 2017

When does “glitter” turn into “Hitler?” When you choose the wrong font for your shopping bag. See the pictures for yourself. (The shopping bag says “My favorite color is glitter,” but it reads “My favorite color it Hitler” because of the font. Mistakes happen, but the problem is that the store, BelleChic, hasn’t acknowledged the problem, only changed the font of the bag after several days and isn’t responding to tweets.)

Mashable, “Poorly designed tote bag shows exactly why fonts are EXTREMELY important,” July 25, 2017

“Don’t lose your chance to escape your prison-like day-to-day routine with our liberating deals,” said Silver Airlines, launching a promotion to coincide with OJ Simpson’s parole hearing and release from jail. They added “The only bars you might see are the kinds serving frozen margaritas and piña-coladas.” More problematic were the lines, “With deals so hot, you’ll need to wear gloves to nab them,” and that they were going “to slash” prices, references to the main themes in OJ’s murder trial. (So, is this outrageous? Or brilliant marketing? Response seemed to be split. Some people loved it, and some hated it. We’re in the latter group, but since marketing is supposed to separate you from the competition, the real test is, did it work? It certainly got Silver noticed.)

USA Today, “Silver Airways offers ‘Bust out the OJ’ deal after OJ Simpson granted parole,” July 22, 2017

Showing the power of a word, at least in legislation, New Hampshire lawmakers passed a bill that would allow pregnant mothers to take legal action if their fetus was killed in an auto accident or other incident, but by exempting women from “any act” they unwittingly legalized murder. (The legislature’s House minority leader responded with a BIMBO, saying “No one advocated for anyone to murder anyone.” He should have said “We’re fixing a technical glitch to create a safe harbor for pregnant women.”)

The Hill, “New Hampshire fixes law that accidentally allowed pregnant women to commit murder,” June 23, 2017

AND MORE EXAMPLES…

When conservative provocateur Ann Coulter was summarily moved from the airline seat she had reserved, she took to Twitter to attack Delta as “the worst airline in America,” and called flight attendants “Nurse Ratchets,” referencing the drill sergeant-like nurse in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” Delta responded in kind, criticizing Coulter and defending its own: “Each of our employees is charged with treating each other as well as our customers with dignity and respect, and we hold each other accountable when that does not happen. Delta expects mutual civility throughout the entire travel experience.” Our take? Again, what’s the goal and who’s the audience? Coulter tweeted a picture of the woman put in her seat – and we think that’s beyond the pale. There’s no indication that the woman passenger had any role in moving Coulter. So, first take? This was a disaster, but as one of the experts commenting on the debate noted, Coulter wants attention. That’s her stock in trade, and by that measure, she got it.

Fortune, “Here’s why Delta’s Response to Ann Coulter Was Perfect According to PR Experts,” July 17, 2017

Walmart took heat when a third party posted an ad for a wig on its marketplace and listed the color as “n---- brown.” We experience this issue with a number of industries, particularly construction. A sub-contractor can cause an accident or reportable incident, but the general contractor’s name is on the construction site, so the media reports always name the main contractor. Walmart handled the criticism as well as possible. They reacted quickly, apologized – even though it wasn’t their fault at all, expressed emotion by declaring themselves “appalled” and promised to investigate and report back.

The Washington Post, “Walmart blasted after an online ad includes the n-word,” July 18, 2017

EXAMPLE OF WHAT TO SAY

Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota North America, hosted the grand opening of Toyota’s brand new, two million square foot campus in Plano (North Dallas). He talked about the need to be “one Toyota” noting, “I think any time you have a sales culture and a manufacturing culture, they are very different.” But what really caught our attention was his articulation that they needed to be a more nimble, mobility focused company rather than just an automaker. “How we define success is how well we take care of our customers, how quickly we can make decisions, and how quickly we can come to market with new ideas.” Amen! Some years ago, we worked with Easton Bell Sports and their CEO preached that they needed to be an “innovation” company rather than a manufacturer of sporting equipment. Great interview! And great strategic positioning!

The Dallas Morning News, “See Toyota’s new huge Plano campus, from climbing wall to convenience store,” July 6, 2017 



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