What a rich crop of BIMBO comments this month! We feature comments from now-former Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, UK Member of Parliament Chris Bryan (who made very unparliamentarily comments), Israel’s U.S. Ambassador, entertainment and business icons and a blog post about anti-vaccine folks. Examples of the “Wrong Thing to Say” come to us from DSK, a Texas Republican state rep and a bizarre protestor, former Mayor Giuliani (I’m sorry, Rudy), Krispy Kreme and Conrad Hilton III. We also feature wonderful honesty from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg (may we all be like her at 82). There’s a once in a lifetime tweet from Spock and several wrong tweets, including a real life lesson from someone about to take a new job (predictably, the boss saw it, too).
THE WINNING BIMBO
“I do not think about sex every time I meet a woman,” said UK television personality Jon Snow, although he now claims to have been “misreported” by the London Evening Standard a year ago. (We’re not sure he improved the situation by clarifying his remarks saying, “What I said was that every time a man meets a woman he hasn’t met before, the thought goes through his mind: do I fancy her?” By dredging up the old comment during an interview on a totally different topic, Snow simply brought it into the headlines once again.)
The Guardian, “Jon Snow: ‘I do not think about sex every time I meet a woman,’” Feb. 24, 2015
“We’re not sorry. We did not set out to bum people out,” said Nationwide’s Chief Marketing Officer about the hugely negative reaction to the company’s Super Bowl ad showing a child who had died commenting on all the things he would not be able to do. (Leaving aside the appropriateness of the material for a Super Bowl ad, we’re really concerned that the comment comes from the company’s CMO who appears to be tone deaf. He insisted they were trying to stimulate a conversation about child safety, and Nationwide was on solid ground when it pointed out that childhood accidents are the leading killer of children. The CMO also said, “We’re not trying to sell insurance. We’re trying to save kids’ lives,” but he competed with his own message.)
USA Today, “Nationwide ad provokes; little else in Super Bowl does,” Feb. 3, 2015
“I have no intention of resigning as Governor of the State of Oregon,” now former Gov. John Kitzhaber stated on February 11 in response to a controversy over the propriety of his fiancée, Clyvia Hayes, advising him on energy issues while serving the industry as a consultant. Two days later, he resigned with another wrong thing to say, “I am confident that I have not broken any laws nor taken any actions that were dishonest or dishonorable in their intent or outcome.” (Poor governor. Did he not know about Hayes’ double role? Who advised him to draw a line in the sand and then to issue the negative statement? Just to make it worse, he also attacked the media, charging that they were responsible for the flap. On the 13th, he asked the Ethics Commission to review his actions. By then it was too late. Note that the resignation appeared in the headlines.)
The Oregonian, “John Kitzhaber says he ‘has no intention of resigning,’” Feb. 11, 2015
The New York Times, “Gov. John Kitzhaber of Oregon Resigns Amid Crisis,” Feb. 13, 2015
“We don’t want to talk about it because we’re going to look bad if we do, but at some point we have to push back and say: We’re not corrupt. We’re not bought off,” said Washington State Sen. Brian Hatfield, complaining about a new ethics rule limiting the number and kind of meals elected officials can accept from lobbyists. (We feel for the senator who said it’s OK for rich officials to pay for their own meals but not for members of the “poor caucus” like him. Sen. Hatfield picked the absolutely wrong language to defend the lawmakers. He should have said, “We need to reassure the electorate that we can break bread with people from all points of view, even if they’re paying for the bread, and make decisions based on what’s best for our constituents.”)
The Olympian News-Tribune, “Lawmakers grouse about free meals rule,” Jan. 29, 2015
“Anti-vaxxers are not the enemy,” read the headline of a blog post by Andrew O’Hehir taking issue with the fact that today, everyone gets to pick which experts they trust. Mistrust of authority and science puts the anti-vaccine people and those who do not believe in climate change in the same boat. His basic premise is true, but the rest is quite a stretch. The headline makes a nice BIMBO, though.)
Salon, “Anti-vaxxers are not the enemy: Science, politics and the crisis of authority,” Feb. 7, 2015
“I am not trying to be partisan here,” said Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the US, adding “I do not want to be involved in your partisan politics.” (And he can say this with a straight face! Dermer, who is joined at the hip with Prime Minister Netanyahu, was born in America and earned a living as a political strategist. The whole flap is linked to the speech Netanyahu gave last week to a joint session of Congress. We share Ambassador Dermer’s annoyance with the double standard of how Israel is judged in many areas, but of course they’re trying to influence the political debate.)
Bloomberg Businessweek, “Israel’s U.S.-Born Ambassador Tangles with the White House,” Feb. 15, 2015
“This is not ugly,” said the attorney for Robin Williams’ widow and third wife who is fighting his children from his first two marriages about who gets which items in his various houses. (It may not have been ugly before, but that was the wrong thing to say. He should have said “Everyone loved Robin and we will work this out the way he would have wanted.”)
The Guardian, “Widow of Robin Williams in fight with his children over estate,” Feb. 2, 2015
“We’re not a threat to Europe,” said Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who was elected on a platform of magically convincing the other European countries to cut Greece’s huge debt or bail them out in other ways. (The PM continued, “We’re proposing mutually-acceptable, viable solutions on the debt question.” The problem is that the “threat” quote is more memorable than the second half. The other issue is that he’s a flawed messenger. He needs respected leaders or economists to talk about how other countries, notably after World War II, had debt forgiven because it helped the world economies recover.)
Bloomberg Businessweek, “Merkel Says Greek Diplomatic Offensive Is Failing,” Feb. 4, 2015
“It’s not a thoughtless amassing of rich folks,” said Larry Harvey, co-founder and a board member of the Burning Man event in the Nevada desert. Burning Man is part arts festival, party and display eccentricity and wealth. The founders of Burning Man have set up a new organization to encourage regional festivals around the world. The quotable Harvey also said, “I want to convince people that it isn’t as if the 1 percent represents an evil bacillus that like Ebola will sweep through the city.” Publicity about the over-the-top effort by Jim Tananbaum of Foresite Capital was generated by a former employee who broke the secrecy rules by posting a scathing tell-all account of her employment. (We’re not taking sides in the who-mistreated-whom debate, we’re simply pointing out that Harvey says he wants to “change the world,” but his two quotes paint an undesirable picture about who he and his friends are.)
Bloomberg Businessweek, “The Billionaires at Burning Man,” Feb. 5, 2015
WRONG THING TO SAY
“It was four times a year for three years, nothing more,” Dominique Strauss-Kahn, former finance minister of France, told a court about alleged sex orgies he attended. (That’s all? He doesn’t think that’s too much? The actual legal debate was about whether he knew the women involved had been paid for sex. We supposed when DSK, as he’s known, glances in the mirror, he finds himself so handsome that he imagines women lining up to be with him. Even if this is France, he should have expressed regret. If nothing else, given his position, he could have compromised his country’s security. And notice the mocking headline.)
Bloomberg Businessweek, “Strauss-Kahn’s Defense: I Only Attended Sex Parties ‘Four Times a Year,’” Feb. 9. 2015
Texas State Rep. Molly White, R-Belton, and protestor Christine Weick made national news, embarrassing the state and their party, during a capitol visit by a group of Muslims. Weick actually grabbed the microphone from a speaker and started shouting. White posted on Facebook that Muslim visitors to her office would have to “renounce Islamic terrorist groups and publicly announce allegiance to America and our laws.” Of course, that’s what we thought the group was doing at the Capitol in the first place. Weick’s rudeness and White’s posts went viral and were gleefully seized on by what Rush Limbaugh refers to as the “drive-by” media. Oh well, another day.
The Dallas Morning News, “Capitol spectacle brings shame on Texas,” Jan. 29, 2015
“This isn’t racism,” said former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, whom we normally admire and respect, about comments criticizing his statements that the President “doesn’t love America.” Critics predictably charged racism, and Giuliani couldn’t leave it alone. He shot back that it couldn’t be racist because Obama “was brought up by a white mother, a white grandfather, went to white schools and most of this he learned from white people.” (What can this normally smart man have been thinking? My late husband, Tex Lezar, served with Giuliani at DOJ and revered him. What’s the problem? Giuliani’s comments put the focus on race and the president’s patriotism, taking it off the starkly different vision of what the federal government should or shouldn’t do and how we pay for it – or don’t. Notice the headline.)
The New York Times, “Giuliani: Obama had a White Mother, So I’m Not a Racist,” Feb. 19, 2015
We’re sure that the Krispy Kreme Klub sounded like a divine idea to the UK store that posted the event on Facebook. Predictably, they were inundated with comments reminding them of the acronym’s association with the Ku Klux Klan. (This is an example where a second pair of eyes could have saved them a lot of trouble. Since we’re optimists, maybe it’s a good sign that the UK marketing folks didn’t immediately recall one of the dark spots of American history.)
Mashable, “Krispy Kreme apologizes after KKK gaffe on Facebook,” Feb. 17, 2015
“The Hanging Tree” read the ad copy, accompanied by an empty noose on a tree, of Seasalt and Co., a Florida-based graphic design house. When the predictable criticism came, Seasalt got defensive and published a strange explanation: “As artists we create by emotion and things that hit home for us. Not everyone understands as art it’s subjective.” They explained, “Our collection is about rising above and refusing to let the world run us and hang us by any mistakes we have made or didn’t make.” The explanation continues for a number of paragraphs, ending in an unexpected and familiar apology about being sorry if they offended anyone. (We have two observations: Good thing they’re graphic artists and apparently don’t employ any writers. And, it’s hard to see the empty noose and not think of lynching and racism. Perhaps they can contact the UK Krispy Kreme Klub folks and share that second set of eyes to give them some feedback.)
Adweek, “Company Makes Offensive Ad, Then Shows You Exactly How Not to Deal With the Backlash,” Feb. 17, 2015
“Peasants” was the least offensive thing Conrad Hilton III said on a British Airways flight from London to Los Angeles. The 20-year-old namesake of the Hilton line is accused of threatening the flight crew, smoking in the bathrooms, screaming profanities and threats and bragging that his father would pay anything to bail him out. Hilton now faces federal charges. We call the report to the attention of Burning Man founders. If they want to change the world’s perception of the point-one-hundredth percent, they may want to reach out to young Hilton.
The Washington Post, “Conrad Hilton III’s 10-hour in-flight meltdown as told by the FBI and Conrad Hilton,” Feb. 4, 2015
“This stupidity is not worthy of comment,” said a spokesperson for Russian President Vladimir Putin. The comment came in response to a report from the Pentagon that speculated that Putin had Asperger’s syndrome. Of course, by “not commenting,” the spokesperson did just that. And it made the headline.
Agence France-Presse, “Putin’s spokesman dismissed ‘stupid’ Asperger’s claim,” Feb. 6, 2015
“I wasn’t 100 percent sober because before we went to the State of the Union, we had dinner together,” explained Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg about nodding off during the speech. (What can we say? We’re impressed. We all wanted to do the same thing.)
Vox, “Ruth Bader Ginsburg: I wasn’t ‘100% sober’ at the State of the Union,” Feb. 13, 2015
BEHIND THE SCENES
Check out the emails from Sprite’s New York City PR firm to the editor of a New York Media outlet. The firm offered concert and basketball tickets in return for mentioning the events, tweeting and posting on Facebook about them. It’s an unusually revealing look at how advertising/marketing and news media have merged.
Gawker, “Here’s How Sprite Tries to Buy Off Reporters With Free Tickets,” Feb. 3, 2015
The best tweet we’ve seen in a while is the last message from Leonard Nemoy aka Spock. He was a model of grace: “A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP.”
WGN Chicago, “Leonard Nimoy’s final tweet: ‘Life is like a garden,’” Feb. 27, 2015
Keith Olbermann can always be counted on to do the reprehensible thing. Pennsylvania State University students raised more than $13 million for a charity for pediatric cancer patients, and Olbermann responded “pitiful.” Then he got into a Twitter fight with people objecting to his calling the students “pitiful because they are PSU students.” ESPN finally did the right thing and suspended him. Olbermann eventually apologized, with a notable lack of sincerity.
PR Daily “ESPN suspends Keith Olbermann after Twitter row,” Feb. 25, 2015
This is not a joke. The NSA sent out Valentine’s Day tweets like, “#HappyValentinesDay from the #NSA. No, we don’t listen to your pillow talk. #vday2015.” (The NSA is yet another enterprise that needs an outside set of eyes to say “Don’t do it!”)
Boing Boing, “Tone-deaf Valentines tweets from the NSA,” Feb. 14, 2015
In the same vein, the State Department is asking Twitter followers to “share solutions” to fight “violent extremism.” We’re guessing that laughing yourself to death isn’t what they had in mind.
The Daily Caller, “State Department Asks Twitter for Ideas to Fight Terrorists,” Feb. 20, 2015
More lessons from the real world: a Texas woman with the Twitter handle @Cella wrote, “Eww I start this [f$#% a*%] job tomorrow," followed by seven thumbs down emojis. Predictably, someone showed the tweet to the future boss, who responded in kind: no job. The whole exchange went viral and Cella has apparently heard from people around the world. We are constantly under surveillance and being judged.
Houston Chronicle, “Texas girl fired on Twitter,” Feb. 10, 2015
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