Bimbo Banter


BIMBO Nominees for February 2011


  • Bimbo
  • February 1, 2011
  • by Spaeth Communications

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January was quite the month. Taco Bell wins our new award for “Pure Guts” and Hugh Hefner and president of the American Federation of Teachers Randi Weingarten deliver true BIMBOs. Congressman Dennis Kucinich filed an outrageous lawsuit, and there were several “Wrong Thing to Say” examples with predictable results. This month sets the record for examples of how twitter and other social media have blended and blurred with traditional media and other communication channels. There are some disturbing images from Pakistan; uncivil democrats attacking fruitcake, reality TV star Snooki, halftime lap dancers, UBS of Switzerland’s totally obsessive dress code and more. 

THE WINNING BIMBO

“Hugh Hefner: I Am Not a Sex Slave Rapist in a Palace of Poop,” was the headline in a post reporting a conversation that Hef had with a Daily Beast reporter following an elaborate engagement to a woman who is six decades younger than him. While the actual quotes are not great, the BIMBO headline is the brainchild of the writer. (The initial charges came from a former girlfriend’s book. Hef confirms the girls get a $1,000 a week allowance, saying “That part is true. If you write it and make it sound sleazy, that’s easy to do.” We don’t have to make it sound sleazy; it is sleazy. Please note “sleazy” is his word. Even worse, the article closes with his observation that “I’m more of a target today than probably at any other time in my life in terms of attention from young women… I think it has to do with the curious nature of iconic celebrity.” Tragically, he’s right. These beautiful young women are so polluted with toxic celebrity culture that they would rather hang out with him than make something of themselves.)

Gawker.com, “Hugh Hefner: I Am Not a Sex Slave Rapist in a Palace of Poop,” Jan. 4, 2011

The Daily Beast, “Getting a Rise Out of Hef,” Jan. 4, 2011

THE RUNNERS-UP

“We are not a secret society,” said Mark Bennett, a Freemason. The society has lost a quarter of its membership over the past few decades and has launched an effort to open their doors and attract new people interested in Masonry. (Bennett does admit, “We’re a society with a few secrets.” Unfortunately, the article repeats all the conspiracy theory charges and only briefly mentions that they raise money for charities, including the well-known Shriners Hospitals for Children. Finally, it’s not clear if they want women or not. Dane La Joye is quoted as saying “Women are the fastest-growing segment of our membership today,” but Richard Fletcher, the executive secretary of the Masonic Service Association of North America said, “Women are not allowed to join, and the policy is not up for debate.” Our verdict? They need a lot of strategic communication help.)

USA Today, “Masons, other service groups fight decline,” Jan. 31, 2011

Insurance giant Allstate sponsored what was supposed to be a humorous “study” linking car accidents and Zodiac signs. Then they released a strange statement that read, “Astrological signs have absolutely no role in how we base coverage and set rates.”   (Full disclosure: As a Virgo myself, I took issue with the finding that Virgos were the worst drivers. Allstate apologized and removed the study from its online newsroom. We’re always urging companies to have more fun and understand that humor is a leadership tool because it helps build relationships and morale. Of course, occasionally, something will fall flat – like this study. We’re afraid too many companies will decide “let’s not try anything.” That’s the wrong lesson to learn from this. Try again, Allstate.)

Chicago Tribune, “Allstate apologizes for study on astrological signs,” Jan. 31, 2011

“There is not a bad-teacher epidemic,” said the President of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten. (In a Bloomberg Business Week piece, she said, “Education is about creating opportunities for kids to realize their dreams while the labor movement is about trying to create opportunity in an employment setting.”  She also claims the proper focus should be on “inputs for student success.”  What about outputs? Like whether students are actually learning? We live in a global age where flexibility is critical and individual effort is important. Talk to teachers in private schools and they will invariably tell you they couldn’t stand the bureaucracy, lack of discipline, and the fact that mediocre and poor teachers were tolerated. Ms. Weingarten is correct, but she’s wearing blinders.)

Bloomberg Business Week, “Hard Choices,” Jan. 17, 2011

PURE GUTS

The “Pure Guts” award goes to Taco Bell for responding to the Alabama suit alleging the “beef” tacos were “only 38 percent beef.” The company bought full-page ads that stated, “Thank you for suing us,” and their CEO appeared on the morning TV shows. All we can say is, “wow!” (We’re giving them two thumbs up, although we’re a little concerned about the use of statistics. A claim that they’re actually “88 percent beef” and that the rest is “seasoning,” left us a little worried and produced all kinds of material for the talk show hosts to read through such as the ingredients which included substances like silicon. Still, Taco Bell responded quickly; they took risks, and their CEO led the charge by poking fun at the situation. We think Dale Carnegie would be proud: take the lemon, make lemonade…or tacos.)

USA Today, “Taco Bell takes its beef with lawsuit to public,” Jan. 28, 2011

WRONG THING TO SAY

“That could have just as easily happened here,” said Admiral James Winnefeld about the bombing at Domodedovo Airport in Moscow which killed dozens of people. (These are pretty bold words. Admiral Winnefeld is the commander of NORAD. Perhaps the word “easily” wasn’t exactly the right word to choose. It doesn’t inspire much confidence. Of course, he’s being totally honest. There’s not a lot authorities can do, even in a police state like Russia to intercept all the nut cases who are eager to harm. See the very scary images of Pakistani people showering the assassin of Punjab’s governor, Salman Taseer, with rose petals. One of his own bodyguards killed him because he dared to speak out against the laws prescribing death for alleged blasphemy. It is truly terrifying. We hope Admiral Winnefeld isn’t right—that it couldn’t “easily” happen here.)

Associated Press, “Moscow attack could ‘easily’ happen in U.S.,” Jan. 26, 2011

The Telegraph, “‘The killer of my father, Salman Taseer, was showered with rose petals by fanatics. How could they do this?’” Jan. 8, 2011

“Fruitcakes?” There was yet another ill-considered and unwarranted attack on one of our favorite Texas institutions—the Collin Street Bakery. Let us explain. Former Congressman Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa., was reminded of his less-than-civil comment about Florida gubernatorial candidate, Rick Scott. Kanjorski said, “Instead of running for governor of Florida, they ought to have him and shoot him. Put him against the wall and shoot him.” As he loudly called for civility in politics in his New York Times op-ed piece, Kanjorski was asked about this comment and retorted that “only fruitcakes” would have taken his statement literally. (Blog posts noted that this is sort of the point. The uproar trying to connect conservative statements to the Tucson murders makes about as much sense as taking Rep. Kanjorski literally. Stop with the attacks on fruitcakes, though. The world’s foremost baker of fruitcakes, the Collin Street Bakery, is a Texas institution and one of our favorites.)

The Washington Examiner, “Kanjorski: ‘Only fruitcakes,’ would take my call to shoot a governor literally,” Jan. 12, 2011

“I really need to watch my drinking when it comes to partying during the day in the summer,” said Snooki, star of MTV’s “The Jersey Shore,” to Matt Lauer in an interview in which she was trying to promote her new book, “A Shore Thing.” Incidentally, this only provides the final proof that the once great “Today” show has fallen on hard times. (Lauer valiantly tried to ask questions about whether she had a drinking problem, but the entire interview, based on what passes for a book, is an embarrassment.)

Todayshow.com, “Snooki, ‘Not everyone’s going to like me,’” Jan. 11, 2011

Goldman Sachs got a black eye when it tried to privately peddle as much as $1.5 billion of closely held Facebook stock to wealthy investors. SEC rules severely restrict stock solicitations. The numbers were not aligned. Facebook has more than 600 million users, and the SEC rules require that any company with more than 499 investors disclose information. It’s a clear example of how Goldman contacted some of its clients and they told two people and they told two people and so on. (Experts and critics pointed out Goldman’s past problems with the SEC, fines assessed against the company for violations and withering criticism from Benchmark Financial’s Edward Siedel, himself a former SEC attorney, who pointed out that, while there was a lot of information about Facebook, “Remarkably, virtually none of it has to do with the material investment data, profitability, etc. The notion of a private offering of a company which has been widely touted is inconsistent with our federal securities laws.” Ouch.)

Bloomberg “Goldman stumbles and mucks up the PR game…again,” Jan. 18, 2011

The National Lacrosse League’s Boston Blazers advertise they are a “family fun activity,” so it’s no surprise when game attendees who brought young children were outraged by the halftime show that featured a unique contest—a competition to see which dancer could give the mascot the best lap dance. Also not surprising is that an enterprising fan videotaped the ‘affair’ and put it on YouTube. Reaction to the contest on the Blazers’ Facebook page was swift. The Blazers didn’t immediately apologize. (What to learn from this? First, the words “lap dance” should have prompted someone to say, “Maybe we should rethink this.” That’s the benefit of recognizing a bad word. Second, it was an absolute guarantee that someone would post a video on YouTube. These media channels are omnipresent today. Finally, when you screw up, apologize immediately and with genuine passion and in the same channel. Someone should have done a straight-to-camera apology and stuck it on YouTube. Note that “lap dance” made it into the headline. The real loss is that the articles focused on the lap dance rather than the sport or the team.)

Examiner.com, “Boston Blazers anger fans with ‘lap dance’ half time show.” Jan. 16, 2011

BLUNDER OF THE MONTH

An unpitted olive is the fearsome force that attacked Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio. He claimed he, “sustained serious and permanent dental and oral injuries requiring multiple surgeries and oral procedures.” Kucinich, who claims he chomped down on the pit while eating a sandwich from the Longworth House Office Building cafeteria, wants $150,000 in damages. (And lawyers wonder why the public distrusts them and small business loathes them. An olive pit? Get real. We’re willing to believe that maybe – maybe – he suffered a chipped tooth. The remedy? Bring it to the management’s attention and use the pit as a speech prop to symbolize the unexpected. At least he’s proving the contention that health care reform needs tort reform if it’s going to have a prayer of improving health care and lowering costs. Hey, wait a minute! Maybe some of his constituents can sue him for the pain and suffering that comes from the ridicule of having their congressman file such a boneheaded suit! We’re sure we can find a lawyer to take the case.)

ABC News, “Kucinich in the Pits, Sues Congressional Cafe for Unsavory Wrap,” Jan. 27, 2011

WHAT DID YOU EXPECT?

ABC News’ “20/20” did a heartbreaking exposé of the Peace Corps, covering how several volunteers have been raped, even murdered. “20/20” reported the Corps was less-than-helpful, even implying it tried to cover up the events. Reaction on the Corps’ Facebook page and other blogs was swift and somewhat surprising. Many writers extolled their own experiences and criticized ABC News for not including “positive stories” in the report. Duh! That’s what news stories do. They report bad stuff. Former volunteer Wendy Lee took umbrage, writing that the report left the impression that “You are going to go live in a hut in the middle of nowhere with no resources AND you will probably get raped and killed? That’s insane. No thanks.”  (Now, if Ms. Lee and others would only show the same skepticism to reporting on industries and companies who have been the target of similar reporting. Was the Peace Corps guilty of mishandling the allegations of rape and the allegation that a volunteer was murdered? Apparently. Does that characterize the Peace Corps experience? Of course not. Just remember that next time you see one of the “investigative” shows savage another target. It is interesting that ABC online reported on the extensive debate, liberally quoting from viewers who strenuously disagreed with its reporting.)

ABC News, “Peace Corps Volunteers React to ABC News Report on Murder and Rape,” Jan. 18, 2011

“No black nail polish” and only “skin-colored underwear,” were among the guidelines listed in the 44-page dress code booklet UBS presented to employees last fall. After being internationally ridiculed, UBS retrenched and is shrinking the tome. (We’re a little worried about what this says about the bank. After all, UBS is supposed to have the smartest and most sophisticated bankers. If female employees need to be told “not to show roots,” and both men and women are told “glasses should always be kept clean,” how can they possibly handle multimillion dollar accounts? One of the most important components of corporate culture is to lead by example not by micromanagement via a 44-page memo.)

Associated Press, “UBS employees now allowed to wear red undies,” Jan. 17, 2011

A Fairfax, Va., school district has relented and said that a 12-year-old boy with epilepsy may have his trained service dog with him at school. (This falls into the “pick your battles” category of good judgment. Twelve-year-old Andrew Stevens has an unusually severe form of epilepsy, experiencing up to 20 seizures a day. His dog, Alaya, is highly trained and can instantly recognize when Andrew is experiencing a seizure. He has a device implanted in his chest, and Alaya rubs against it with a magnet implanted in a special collar to lessen the impact. The school district initially imperiously said, “No dog.” The parents’ reaction was predictable. They went to the media. The school district initially put up all kinds of barriers, saying a service aide could minister to Andrew, then said service dogs have to be trained by a certain firm. This is yet another example where the result could be predicted.)  

TODAYshow.com, “School to allow 12 year old epileptic boy’s service dog,” Jan. 4, 2011

THINGS MOVE AT LIGHTENING SPEED

University of North Carolina basketball players landed in Miami during a thunderstorm. As their plane was tossed around, they tweeted about their fears, their barf bags and the storm. (Just a reminder that however stupid Twitter may be, it’s now another way to communicate, particularly with younger people. And they will tweet instantly about what’s happening to them.)

Fox Sports South, “UNC experiences scare on flight to Miami,” Jan. 26, 2011

Many people using their iPhones as alarms didn’t wake up on time on Jan. 1 or 2 because their alarms didn’t go off. They quickly established it was the iPhone’s fault, not theirs, by sharing experiences online and discovering thousands of people had the same problem. (Another example of how the new communication channels have changed how we share information, including the speed or velocity at which it travels. What’s the lesson for all of us? When things go wrong, instead of just verbally complaining to a few friends, people are going to share those feelings online and with much broader distribution. The only antidote is to engage key constituencies before problems occur and encourage competitive, positive experiences.)

The New York Times, “Bug Causes iPhone Alarm to Greet New Year with Silence,” Jan. 2, 2011

Not every story has a happy ending. The New Year began with a lovely story about a homeless man in Columbus who was trained as a radio announcer but lost his career due to substance abuse. The Columbus Dispatch ran the story, local TV picked it up, and the story went viral with well wishers sending help and lending support. End of story? Not quite. Turns out he hadn’t quite beaten his abuse demons. Dr. Phil helped him get into a rehab program, but he only lasted a few weeks. This is a cautionary tale about the pitfalls of too much attention. We second a statement issued by Dr. Phil, “We wish him well.”  

Film.com, “Golden-Voiced Homeless Man is First Viral Celeb of 2011,” Jan. 5, 2011

US News, “’Golden Voice’ homeless man leaves rehab,” Jan. 26, 2011


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