This month we have BIMBOs from author Stephanie Coontz, Anthony Federico (formerly of ESPN), former Dallas Cowboy Terrell Owens (who also illustrates how to blow an opportunity) and - although we hate to do this - the Susan G. Komen Foundation. We also have “Wrong Thing to Say” examples from New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan and Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester. On Twitter, Fox sports’ Jason Whitlock scrambles to recover and has a good example of an apology while CNN’s Roland Martin just gets suspended.
THE WINNING BIMBO
“Wendy’s does not use aborted human fetuses in its food,” according to Kitty Munger, Wendy’s communication director. (Munger was set up by Gawker to ridicule legislation introduced by Oklahoma State Sen. Ralph Shortey, banning “the manufacture or sale of food or products which use aborted human fetuses.” Gawker called several of the country’s largest food companies, ostensibly to see if anyone was using aborted human fetuses, and when Wendy’s didn’t respond, Gawker listed them as a company whose food “possibly contains fetuses.” We feel Wendy’s pain, and we have to tip our caps to Gawker’s very effective technique.)
Gawker, “Wendy’s Denies Using Aborted Human Fetuses in its Food,” Feb. 1, 2012
“I don’t think there is some drastic change needed,” RIM’s new CEO, former COO Thorsten Heins said as the Canadian company, reacting to shareholders’ call for change, replaced its long time co-CEOs. He added, “I will not in any way split this up or separate this into different businesses.” (They’re dead. As a BlackBerry user, it pains me to say that he’s in denial. The article is an excellent example of a poorly managed story. In addition to Hein’s quotes, there’s a predictable “we’re excited and confident about the future” quote from a spokeswoman and at least four industry experts who comment on RIM’s deeper problems. It also looks as if the “won’t split up “comment is a response to a quote from RBC’s Mike Abramsky noting that RIM could become two companies, a handset business and a services management business. One of the experts, Berenberg Bank’s Adnaan Ahmad, even provided what Heins should have said, “All he needed to say was, ‘We are open to options,’ to give investors an idea of flexibility. But there wasn’t much of that.”)
Bloomberg Businessweek, “Research in Motion: The Living Dead?” Feb. 5, 2012
“Overall, will I ever admit that I was a bad teammate? Never. I wasn’t a bad teammate. Was I disruptive? No I wasn’t disruptive,” said former Dallas Cowboy Terrell Owens. (The interview was about Owens’s new role with the Allen Wranglers, of the Indoor Football League, and his decision to co-own and play for the team. This was risky and most of the interview is great. Owens talked about being in great shape and not giving up hope, but he brings up the old charges that he was “disruptive” and had a “character problem,” and he complains that the media made him a “fall guy.” He missed his opportunity to brush off the old charges and focus on the courage it takes to start a new chapter in your life. He missed the chance to invite all the readers to come see him play and cheer on the team. Note that the “blame the media” focus made it into the headline.)
Yardbarker.com “T.O. Says Media Made Him a Villain,” Feb. 13, 2012
“I’m not arguing that women ought to ‘settle,’” wrote Stephanie Coontz in a column analyzing whether marriage prospects for highly educated women are improving and why women still think that the ideal mate is smarter and more renowned than them. (An interesting and compelling column, but the author clearly doesn’t know much about the South.)
New York Times, “The M.R.S. and the Ph.D.,” Feb. 11, 2012
“This had nothing to do with me being cute or punny,” Anthony Federico said after being fired ESPN for using a word thought to be racially offensive in a headline about Knick’s star, Jeremy Lin. (Federico apologized. Lin accepted the apology. This is getting ridiculous. People are too sensitive, and it’s unfair to fire someone when there’s no history or intent of discrimination or bad behavior. See Fox News’ Jason Whitlock’s much more offensive comment in the “Twitter” category below.)
USA Today, “On ESPN action, dating rumors, more,” Feb. 21, 2012
“We’re not a political organization and this is not based on a political decision,” said Nancy Brinker, CEO of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation, later adding, “We’re not in the abortion business.” (This is personally difficult since I admire Nancy a great deal, and Komen was briefly a client several years ago. I believe her. I have known her to be truthful and courageous. Several years ago, Komen began to re-focus direct funding to the most innovative research to find actual cures rather than simply continue to fund preventive and educational health care. I’ve also known Nancy to be very smart, and Komen handled the decision and then the retraction poorly, angering the pro-life and pro-choice groups. Oh well, “it’s an ill wind that blows nobody good.” This is a high profile reminder that communication can have an enormous business impact.)
NBC, “Susan G. Komen Foundation cuts funding for Planned Parenthood,” Feb. 2, 2012
CBS, “Backlash grows over Susan G. Komen-Planned Parenthood flap,” Feb. 2, 2012
WRONG THING TO SAY
“If you asked me to speak because you think New York is a Sodom and Gomorrah, you are wrong,” said New York Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan on the eve of becoming a Cardinal. Plowing ahead, the Archbishop added, “There are elements of immorality and secularism and materialism, all those things that choke us there, but in general I find New York a beautifully receptive field for the good news of Jesus.” (A classic example where the speaker should have focused on the positive, that “New York [is] a beautifully receptive field.” Note that the “Sodom and Gomorrah” line was pulled as a boxed quote and affected the headline.)
New York Times, “Rebutting His City’s Image as Mired in Sin,” Feb. 15, 2012
Boston Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester offers another, similar example. While discussing the team’s season, he said, “We stunk, I stunk; I take full responsibility for it…I think that’s going to be a big theme in spring training for a lot of guys: We’re moving on, we’re looking forward to 2012, and I think there’s that desire to compete and win and show the fans we do actually care.” (He was doing so well, but instead of stopping there, he barreled on, “I think a lot of (the fans) think that we don’t care and we’re just a bunch of babies, but we do care.” One more time: don’t compete with your own quote.)
AP/New York Times, “Outfielder Mike Cameron decides to retire after 17 seasons,” Feb. 20, 2012
“Some lucky lady in NYC is gonna feel a couple of inches of pain tonight,” tweeted Fox Sports.com columnist Jason Whitlock as the Knicks Jeremy Lin led them to victory over the Lakers while the crowd in Madison Square Garden howled approval. (Now, this is obnoxious, and the Asian American Journalists Association took umbrage. Whitlock apologized quickly, and his apology is a good example of what to do: be genuine, start with the positives, be self-deprecating, and be truly sorry. See the whole text below. Notice, there are times when you need more than 140 characters.)
Jason Whitlock wrote: “I get Linsanity. I’ve cried watching Tiger Woods win a major golf championship. Jeremy Lin, for now, is the Tiger Woods of the NBA. I suspect Lin makes Asian Americans feel the way I feel when I watch Tiger play golf.
I should’ve realized that Friday night when I watched Lin torch the Lakers. For Asian Americans and a lot of sports fans, his nationally televised 38-point outburst was the equivalent of Tiger’s first victory in The Masters. I got caught up in the excitement. I tweeted about what a great story Lin is and how he could rival Tim Tebow.
I then gave in to another part of my personality — my immature, sophomoric, comedic nature. It’s been with me since birth, a gift from my mother and honed as a child listening to my godmother’s Richard Pryor albums. I still want to be a standup comedian.
The couple-inches-of-pain tweet overshadowed my sincere celebration of Lin’s performance and the irony that the stereotype applies to pot-bellied, overweight male sports writers, too. As the Asian American Journalists Association pointed out, I debased a feel-good sports moment. For that, I’m truly sorry.
Mediabistro.com, “Jason Whitlock Apologizes for Racist Tweet,” Feb. 13, 2012
Over at CNN, anchor Roland Martin was suspended for his tweet during the Super Bowl, that any male fans who admired David Beckham’s underwear commercial were not “real bruhs.” (Much was made of this as homophobic, but again, we think people are being too hyper sensitive. It is yet another reminder that Twitter isn’t just between you and the next person. It goes to the world.)
NY Daily News, “CNN anchor suspended for homophobic tweets,” Feb. 6, 2012
You May Also Like
There are many useful examples this month! More BIMBO comments and examples from all levels of American politics as well as an Italian prosecutor, the usually perfect Bill Kristol and the never perfect Arnold Schwarzenegger. Sen. Rand Paul… more
Lots of examples in this memo! Additional BIMBOs from the general secretary of Britain’s largest trade union, an IBM executive, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) unintentionally revealing the Democrats’ underlying problems, the CEO of Fiat Chrysler, former Gov. Jeb… more
Is the election over? Although we still have some lingering campaign BIMBOs, we hope you enjoy a respite from the red and blue. Additional BIMBOs from legendary hedge fund founder Ray Dalio, San Francisco 49ers quarterback and resident… more