Bimbo Banter


BIMBO Nominees for January 2009


  • Bimbo
  • January 1, 2009
  • by Spaeth Communications

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THE WINNING BIMBO  

“I’m here to tell you right off the bat that I’m not guilty of any criminal wrongdoing,” said Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich after being arrested for corruption and charged with trying to trade an appointment to President-elect Barack Obama’s Senate seat for personal gain. (In one of the more bizarre press conferences, the Governor quoted Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If” with the famous lines, “If you can keep your head when all about you/ Are losing theirs and blaming it on you…” The BIMBO denial made it into numerous headlines, boxed quotes and countless repetitions on the news. Does this mean he’s guilty of wrongdoing…just not the criminal variety?)

The Wall Street Journal, “Blagojevich Denies All Federal Corruption Charges,” Dec. 20-21, 2008

THE RUNNERS- UP

“But it was not terrorism,” wrote former co-founder Bill Ayers of the Weather Underground, a group which committed acts of vandalism and constructed bombs, one of which blew up members of their own organization. “I never killed or injured anyone,” Ayers continued in a New York Times OpEd piece. (The best comment on this self-serving piece of self-delusion came from a writer on the Left, Katha Pollitt, who wrote in The Nation. “Let’s say Ayers wasn’t a terrorist. How about thuggish? Vainglorious? Egomaniacal? Staggeringly irresponsible…the idea that because ‘peaceful protests’ hadn’t ended the war, bombs would is missing a couple of links.” Her harshest criticism is that Ayers’ antics “helped Nixon make the antiwar movement look like the enemy of ordinary people.”)

The New York Times, “The Real Bill Ayers,” Dec. 6, 2008

The Nation, “Bill Ayers Whitewashes History, Again,” Dec. 8, 2008

“I don’t think the Republican Party is dead,” said Gov. Tim Pawlenty, R-Minn., at a meeting of the nation’s Republican governors, adding, “This party is losing or falling behind with women, with people of modest incomes, with Hispanics, with African-Americans, with younger voters.” (Appearing on The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, Judy Woodruff first asked Gov. Mark Sanford, “[Is]The mood there more like a wake or would you call it a funeral?” and he fell into the trap of saying, “I wouldn’t call it a wake or a funeral.” Then, in the same interview, Pawlenty repeated the words “wake” and “funeral.” Another example of how Republicans let others put words in their mouths.)

The NewsHour, “Republican Governors Assess Party’s Future,” Nov. 13, 2008

Demonstrating that “bad words” reappear again and again, actor Tom Cruise did an interview with Matt Lauer three years after an infamously rocky exchange. Lauer was quoted emphasizing that this “wasn’t a rematch” and that the two do not “hate” each other.(Cruise also said that “I was arrogant” which was certainly true but again shows that negative words crowd out positive ones. Cruise had some very mature comments – noting he had learned a lot – but the headlines all featured the “I was arrogant” comment.)

MCNBC, “Tom Cruise: I was ‘Arrogant,’” Dec. 15, 2008

“We do not want to give the impression that Muslims are an isolated community seeking a separate legal system in this country,” said Shahid Raza about the growing number of British Muslims using Shariah courts. “We are not asking for criminal Shariah law--chopping of hands or stoning to death.” (How comforting. Of course, noncriminal Shari laws are still stacked heavily against women who can, for example, only inherit half as much as a man, and the requests for divorces from abusive men frequently result in the women being sent back to try to “work it out” with their abuser.)

The New York Times, “Britain Grapples with the Role for Islamic Justice,” Nov. 19, 2008

“I ‘absolutely did not say’ I was still a virgin,” was the headline about singer and actress Hilary Duff in an article trying to combat tabloid claims of behavior like “giving lap dances at clubs.” (This is a difficult issue, but generally there is nothing to be gained by rebutting a rumor by repeating and denying it. This would be an example of why it doesn’t work. It only provides a second round of articles.)

USmagazine.com, “Singer Hilary Duff: I ‘Absolutely Did Not Say” I Was a Virgin,” Dec. 19, 2008

“I’m not jealous of Witten,” said Dallas Cowboy Terrell Owens when asked about the number of passes quarterback Tony Romo has thrown to tight end Jason Witten. (This looks like an example of reporters creating a story. Take Owens at his word, but the questions from reporters – ostensibly driven by anonymous sources - to Owens, Patrick Crayton and Roy Williams created the negative story. Of course, given how the Cowboys finished the season, maybe Owens should be glad Romo and the defense bore the brunt of the criticism. This is another example of how repeating a negative word crowds out positive comments.)

The Dallas Morning News, “Dallas Cowboys’ Owens: ‘I’m not jealous of Witten,” Dec. 12, 2008

“I’m not here to try and cause any retribution or any payback for anything else,” insisted Judge Jackie Glass in sentencing former NFL player O.J. Simpson after his conviction for armed robbery in a Las Vegas hotel. Simpson got 33 years in prison. (We almost feel sorry for Simpson, and given the attention still given to Simpson’s trial for murdering his ex-wife Nicole, it was unrealistic to think people wouldn’t link the two together. This is another example of technology. Most of the altercation in the hotel room was caught on tape, as was a call from Simpson to one of the other defendants where he tried to get the other man to agree to say they hadn’t used guns.)

MSNBC, “O.J. Simpson sentences to long term,” Dec. 5, 2008

WRONG THING TO SAY

“My staff tells me not to say this, but I’m going to anyway,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid defending the Capitol Visitors Center which cost more than three times its original estimate and was completed years behind schedule, adding, “…in the summer, because of the heat and high humidity, you could literally smell the tourists coming into the Capitol.” (In the future, Senator, listen to your staff. We always suspected that you thought regular voters smelled…)

Dcexaminer.com, “Reid: We won’t smell the tourists anymore,” Dec. 2, 2008

“Janet’s perfect for that job. Because for that job, you have to have no life. Janet has no family. Perfect,” said Governor Ed Rendell, D-Penn., about President-elect Obama’s choice of Democratic Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano as Secretary of Homeland Security. (The Governor was soundly criticized for his comment, but he was right. His only mistake was that he was standing at a podium with a microphone! What did he think it was for?)

The Christian Science Monitor, “Ed Rendell of Janet Napolitano: Perfect because she has no life!” Dec. 3, 2008

“I just want to comment on how it’s become like a common thing in the NHL for guys to fall in love with my sloppy seconds,” said Dallas Stars player Sean Avery about his former girlfriend, Elisha Cuthbert, now dating a player for another team. (Ugh. Didn’t this guy’s mother teach him any manners? He got suspended indefinitely for the comment, and although he did apologize, it wasn’t until after the controversy.  One lesson for the rich and famous: have someone empowered to get to you immediately when you screw up like this so you aren’t apologizing or trying to make amends when it’s too late.)

The Dallas Morning News, “Dallas Stars’ Sean Avery adds to legacy of controversy,” Dec. 3, 2008

NOTHING IS SECRET

AIG shouldn’t have been surprised that its admonition to employees who were offered “retention bonuses” if they kept the payment “secret” was leaked. Predictably, the discovery that the insurance giant which received $150+ billion from the taxpayer funded bailout bill was giving some employees as much as $4 million only infuriated members of congress and the general public. Here’s another example where the communications people – not to mention the HR team – were either M.I.A. or simply not part of the equation. (One story quoted an AIG manager who said “that the payments weren’t needed because the employees were unlikely to leave.” Good point. Where were they going to go? Lehman Brothers?  Or Bear Stearns?)

Bloomberg, “AIG Said to Offer Retention Pay to More Employees,” Dec. 12, 2008

SUSPECT CHOICE OF WORD

In the aftermath of the three day rampage by a dozen Pakistani terrorists in the Indian city of Mumbai, Indian’s Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram described the cause as “lapses” in security and government procedure. (This is an attempt to minimize responsibility and accountability. The repeated use of the word ‘lapse’ shows it was a strategic choice, but the fact that so few gunmen were able to terrorize a city for three days, which included ample footage showing India’s brave police wielding pistols against the attackers who had AK-47 rifles, grenades and other high power weapons, shows more of a “collapse” than a “lapse.”)

The New York Times, “Police disrupted an earlier plot against Mumbai,” Dec. 6, 2008

EXAMPLES OF THE CHANGING COMMUNICATION LANDSCAPE

The Israeli Defense Force launched more than air strikes against Gaza in its war against Hamas. The IDF started a YouTube Gaza channel where it posted real- time, raw video that was shot from airplanes showing Palestinian militants loading trucks with bombs and explosives, only to be vaporized moments later. (Interesting decision. Our view is that the interpretation of the images will only confirm what both sides were disposed to think beforehand. Savvy techies in the Arab world complained to YouTube which pulled many of the images off the site. Many experts think that Hamas, which wasn’t popular in Gaza, has been bolstered by the Israeli offensive and that the images which Israelis take as prima facie evidence of Hamas terrorism are interpreted by Palestinians and Arabs as examples of Israeli brutality.)

Jerusalem Post, “IDF launches YouTube Gaza channel,” Dec. 30, 2008

It can work for you. It can work against you. Viral messaging and social networking can come back to bite you, or in this case, Tweet you. Motrin had an ad showing a new Mom with baby slung around the torso – thus presumably the need for Motrin – saying “it totally makes me look like an official mom.”  Un-amused moms rallied via Twitter, enlisted their friends and overwhelmed McNeil Consumer Healthcare, which makes Motrin, with complaints. The company caved, apologized and pulled the ad. (Further examples of how things have changed: McNeil was slow on the uptake monitoring blogs and assessing the Tweeting complaints. The ad also spawned spoofs and consumer video responses, all on YouTube.)

USA Today, “Moms offended by Motrin ads get tweet revenge through Twitter,” Nov. 19, 2008

CALLING HERB KELLEHER

Monster Cable sued a tiny company, Monster Mini Golf, charging that the putt- putt site infringed on its trademark. Annoyed bloggers called for a boycott of Monster Cable, causing the giant to backtrack hastily, offering Mini Golf a monthly fee, saying they would give the money to charity, etc. So far Mini Golf hasn’t accepted. (In 1992, Southwest Airlines and a regional airline in the Southeast, Stevens Air, both picked the same tag line – Plane Smart. The lawyers wanted to sue – just like the Monster example – but CEO Herb Kelleher intervened and challenged the much younger, much fitter CEO of the other airline to an arm wrestling match. Weeks of favorable publicity followed while Kelleher ostensibly worked out lifting bottles of Wild Turkey. Over 1400 Southwest employees turned out to cheer their chairman at the “match” which he lost instantly. The two CEOs decided they could share the tag line.)

Engadget.com, “Monster Cable still evil, will allow Monster Mini Golf to exist for just $200/month (per franchise,)” Dec. 12, 2008  

A WORD OF ADVICE…POWER OF BAD WORDS

The word “layoff” showed up repeatedly during December, presenting a challenge for management. Don’t make the mistake of saying that “layoffs aren’t planned” or are a “last resort.” You’ll only convince everyone that layoffs are imminent. 


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