Bimbo Banter


BIMBO Nominees for February 2012


  • Bimbo
  • February 1, 2012
  • by Spaeth Communications

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My, we’ve had an active month! Since we anointed the 2011 BIMBO of the Year in mid- December, we’re combining two months. Be sure to read the full BIMBO – it features comments from Hollywood insider Scotty Bowers, a spokesperson for a far-right Danish political group, LeBron James, and GoDaddy’s CEO. The IRS and Mitt Romney demonstrate how statistics can drive a story. There are “Wrong Thing to Say” examples from Syrian President Assad, and the captain of the Costa Concordia cruise ship. We have a body language “no no” from Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and examples about how swiftly information moves from Papa John’s Pizza, a University of Kentucky basketball game and tweeting Congressional aides. The American Legislative Exchange Council agrees to an interview and ends up slammed, Eric Schmidt from Google has the right perspective and a new book on General Petraeus contains four “must read” tasks for “strategic leaders.”     

THE WINNING BIMBO

“This is not an effort at poaching or sheep-stealing,” said Father Scott Hurd, a former Episcopalian priest turned Catholic cleric who helped create a group, the personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, to sign up parishes and priests who find the Episcopalian Church too liberal. (This wins because of the strange choice of words, “poaching” and “sheep-stealing.” Father Hurd should have echoed Cardinal Donald Wuerl’s words, “I’m excited about the opportunity for those who, for the most part, are already with the Catholic Church in their hearts.”  That’s not only welcoming, it’s savvy strategy; the “for the most part” phrase is a tip of the hat to the Vatican’s decision to exempt married Episcopal priests from celibacy and to keep certain elements of the Anglican liturgy.)

The New York Times, “Catholic Church Unveils a New Home for Former Episcopalians in U.S.” Jan. 2, 2012

THE RUNNERS-UP

“I never directed anyone at MF Global to misuse customer funds,” said former CEO John Corzine at a Congressional hearing probing why the firm was “missing” over a billion dollars. (Seven weeks after the debacle triggered by an October 27 downgrade by CME to “junk” status, a little humility would have been in order: “I thought I was smart, and I bet big on European debt, that countries like Germany would bail out their profligate counterparts. I was wrong and I dragged a lot of customers with me. That’s the free market system.” But, of course, the attorneys will never let him say that.)

The Wall Street Journal, “Corzine Knew of Fund Transfer,” Dec. 16, 2011

“I wasn’t a pimp,” wrote Scotty Bowers in a tell-all book, Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars where he says he arranged for prostitutes and “sexual liaisons” for Hollywood’s A List stars of the ‘40s and ‘50s, including Katherine Hepburn, Cole Porter, Cary Grant, Spencer Tracy and many more. (Of course, arranging sex for remuneration is the very definition of pimping.)

The New York Times, “Hollywood Fixer Opens His Little Black Book,” Jan. 29, 2012

“I have no federal lobbying relationship with any past or current clients. I have not lobbied anyone in Washington since leaving Congress. Further, while in Congress, I had no conversations with anybody regarding any future consulting contract,” insisted former Representative William Delahunt (D-MA) who has been hired by Hull, Massachusetts to help with a wind energy project funded by an earmark he wrote into an Energy Department bill. (He’s probably right; he’s probably not “lobbying,” since the money is already allocated, and he probably didn’t have to talk to anyone. He just did it. What’s laughable is the town manager’s claim that Mr. Delahunt was a “natural choice” for the job since he was familiar with the project. It’s this kind of insider back scratching that disgusts the American people, whether it’s done by Republicans or Democrats.)

The New York Times, “Lobbyist Helps a Project He Financed in Congress,” Jan. 22, 2012

“We are not racists. We are not Nazis,” said Bo Vilbrand, spokesman for the Danish Defence League, a right wing group that says it’s opposed to Muslim influence in their countries. (These guys are nuts. They are hurting their ostensible cause with stunts like dismembering pigs, graffiti on mosques and comments that they aren’t racist because they “welcome blacks and Jews.”  Gee, thanks for clarifying that. Incidentally, the media characterizes the League as “far-right.” We’re waiting for them to characterize the Occupy folks as “far-left.”)

Associated Press, “A Growing Movement,” Dec. 11, 2011

“I am not a villainous person,” said LeBron James, claiming he abandoned his “bad boy” personality when he left Cleveland for Miami. (James says he became “unfocused,” last year, and that’s why he acted as he did. We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Note that the “villainous” line was featured as a quote on the front page of the paper as well as in the body of the story. The moral? Bad words get repeated.)

USA Today, “James vows not to be sidetracked this time,” Dec, 22 2011

“We’re not cynical folks,” said GoDaddy CEO Warren Adelman about the company’s abrupt abandonment of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) bill after a storm of protest from customers. (Adelman indicated that they had been listening to their customers (a good thing), but the negative quote was the headline. The lesson? Don’t compete with yourself.)

Mashable, “GoDaddy CEO: ‘We’re Not Cynical Folks,’” Dec. 23, 2011

STATISTICS

“We don’t play politics here,” said a spokesperson for the IRS as they released a study showing that about one percent of tax payers making under $200,000 were audited; four percent of those earning more than $200,000 were audited and 12 percent of people making over a million dollars were audited. A spokesperson for the Agency said that the figures were to demonstrate that the tax code is being enforced fairly and is unrelated to President Obama’s call for higher taxes on “the rich.” (We don’t believe this for a second, and a big part of the problem with the communication is the identification of people making over $200,000 as “wealthy,” a term designed to divide people and create envy, as well as the continuing rant against “millionaires” and “billionaires.” Note that the word, “wealthy,” made the headline.)

Associated Press, “IRS says audit rates have grown for the wealthy,” Jan. 4, 2012

Mitt Romney showed a tin ear when he challenged Rick Perry to a $10,000 bet about whether he had – or had not – said something about the national health care mandate. (Perry demurred, saying he wasn’t a betting man, but Romney will see that line again and again. He also had a BIMBO, during the debate over how to define the Palestinian state, saying “I’m not a bomb thrower, rhetorically or literally.”  The lessons are that, first, the $10,000 was highly memorable and damaging, and a reminder to ask “Who’s my audience and what will they think of this number?” rather than what it means to you, and second, negative comments will be repeated. The “bomb thrower” line was repeated over and over again throughout the hour long debate.)

Des Moines Register, “Debate: Gingrich, Romney take most of debate’s jabs” Dec. 11, 2011

WRONG THING TO SAY

Only a “crazy person” would kill his own people, Syrian President Bashar Assad told Barbara Walters, trying to blame the uprising spreading across Syria on foreigners and extremists.  (He was closer than he thought, as it’s become increasingly clear that the mounting death toll is a result of his army. However, his comments, “You feel sorry for the life that has been lost, but you don’t feel guilty when you don’t kill people,” are telling.)

Associated Press, “Only a ‘crazy person’ would kill his own, Assad says,” Dec. 8, 2012

The story of the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia is such a big story, that we hesitate to single out even one comment, but Captain Schettino’s comment that he “messed up,” will be repeated many times. (One lesson to be learned in crisis communication planning: make sure to include a scenario about human error. Carnival, the ship’s owner, finally issued a statement from its CEO, saying, “I give my personal assurance that we will take care of each and every one of our guests, crew and their families affected by this tragic event,” and it now remains to be seen if they live up to that noble commitment.)

Herald Sun, “Death toll rises to 12 as captain admits he ‘messed up,’” Jan. 22, 2012

“There are certain levels of acceptable risk in society,” said Todd Wynn, director of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) task force on energy, environment and agriculture. This article, by a blog catering to environmental groups, like the National Resources Defense Council, positioned ALEC as a heartless captive of industry willing to allow children to eat rat poison – and die – just so companies didn’t have to comply with tighter federal regulations. Our sympathies are with Mr. Wynn who is trying to articulate a badly needed point of view – that regulations have consequences and the fact that regulators have good intentions is not enough. This is an interesting example of what we’ll call “parody media;” it seems like a real article, but it’s propaganda. We hope Mr. Wynn taped the entire interview.

Center for Democracy’s PR Watch, “Kids Eating Rat Poison As an ‘Acceptable Risk’ for ALEC,” Dec. 6, 2011

“Nobody here commits billing fraud,” said attorney Darrin Meyer, about a story that his firm required lawyers to lie about their billable hours and had a quota of 3,000 billable hours annually. (The story also ran in one of the LA papers and came from a lawsuit filed by a fired employee. The lesson here is, again, numbers drive the story, and second, negative words – like “fraud”– will certainly drive a story. Meyer also said, “The allegations are completely untrue,” He should have limited himself to that and added that the firm’s concentration on worker compensation cases were a valuable contribution to their clients.)

ABA Journal, “Suit by Fired Lawyer Claims Law Firm Encouraged Fraud with 3,000-Hour Billable Quota,” Dec. 12, 2011

RIGHT THING TO SAY

In a story about a wildly over-the-top party thrown by Sean Parker, where journalists were given $300 bottles of vintage Tequila, Google’s Chairman, Eric Schmidt observed, “We live in a bubble, and I don’t mean a tech bubble or a valuation bubble, I mean a bubble as in our own little bubble.”  (At least he has a sense of perspective.)

Bloomberg Business Week, “Facebook Pleasure-Palace Party Shows Life in the ‘Bubble,’” Jan. 12, 2012

BODY LANGUAGE “NO NO”

We’re admirers of Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, but she shouldn’t have shaken her finger at President Obama. We don’t believe the body language gurus who insist that every gesture and wiggle has deep meaning, but pointing a finger is not appropriate. Further, it was predictable that the media would pick up this one image and distribute it.

Associated Press, “Obama-Brewer friction on display on tarmac tiff,” Jan. 26, 2012

TWITTER

An employee for a Papa John’s Pizza in Manhattan handed a customer, Minhee Cho, a receipt with the message “lady chinky eyes” on it. Ms. Cho tweeted about the incident and included an image of the receipt. Predictably, it went viral. The company picked up the tweet within several hours, apologized and reached out to Ms. Cho via email and Twitter. The news story on the incident included a picture of the company’s founder holding a rather delicious looking pizza. A company spokeswoman also spoke to reporters saying they were trying to reach Ms. Cho to apologize verbally. (Well done. The company was on this quickly, reacted in several channels, and included an image of their own to compete with the picture of the receipt with the snarky comment.)

Associated Press, “Papa John’s apologizes for racial slur on receipt,” Jan. 8, 2012

Another good example comes from Kroger, who had sponsored a half-time contest during a University of Kentucky basketball game. The winner, Vincent Swope, sank his shot and dreamed of what he would do with the $10,000. One of the contest organizers stopped him with a copy of the contract and a video replay of the show, which seemed to show he was several inches over the half court line, relieving the supermarket of its commitment to pay. When Kentucky Sports Radio founder Matt Jones found out about the possible reneging, he organized a protest and encouraged his 37,000 Twitter followers to tweet in protest. They did. All this took place before the game ended. Kroger called Mr. Swope within an hour to say they would pay up. (What’s the lesson here? Good reaction and recovery from Kroger. It should never have happened, but it’s an example for others about how quickly information moves.)

The Dagger, “Protest helps half-court shot contest winner claim his prize,” Jan. 27, 2012

Another Twitter example comes from Congressman Rick Larson (D-WA) whose staffers tweeted pictures of themselves drinking Jack Daniels at their desks in Washington, D.C. They also called Larson an “idiot boss.”  (They are no longer employed.  What could they have been thinking?)

Associated Press, “Rep. Larsen staffers fired after Tweeting their on-the-job drinking exploits,” Dec. 8, 2011

GOOD EXAMPLE

The best example comes from Paula Broadwell’s new book, “All In: The Education of General David Petraeus.” She says General Petraeus lays out “four tasks” for “strategic leaders.” First, “get the big ideas right,” second, “communicate those ‘big ideas,’” third, “oversee the implementation of those big ideas,” and finally “capture best practices and lessons and cycle them back through the system to help refine the big ideas.”

The Wall Street Journal, “Measuring the Man in Charge,” Jan. 21, 2012   


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