Bimbo Banter


BIMBO Nominees for May 2017


  • Bimbo
  • May 5, 2017
  • by Spaeth Communications

Bimbo blog image c

What a month! We have BIMBOs from Rep. Devin Nunes, rapper Ja Rule, former Obama adviser Susan Rice, Speaker Paul Ryan and an Idaho county prosecutor. We have examples of The Wrong Thing to Say from Press Secretary Sean Spicer, Adidas, a Swedish department store, Cosmopolitan Magazine and a Boston-based swimsuit designer. More interesting examples: how to portray huge numbers, the Gray Lady joins Snapchat, Southwest Airlines maintains its reputation for humor as a corporate value and U.K. Labor leader Jeremy Corbin demonstrates ducking a question. Last but not least, we have our own comment on the United Airlines passenger dragging incident. Lots in this edition!

THE WINNING BIMBO

“We are not fake news. We are not failing news organizations. And we are not the enemy of the American people,” said the president of the White House Correspondents Association, Jeff Mason. (Without President Trump or other White House participation, the annual dinner became an exercise in self-congratulation. Bob Woodward also repeated the “We are not fake news” line. This year’s event, which has produced some live-forever moments in the past, such as when President George W. Bush appeared with an impersonator beside him, only confirmed the low opinion that many Americans have about the media.)

The Washington Post, “A different sort of White House correspondents’ dinner,” April 29, 2017

THE RUNNERS-UP 

“I have no ulterior motives,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, when he announced he would not run for reelection in 2018. (Chaffetz was described as a “rising star” by media so his surprise announcement caused all kinds of speculation. We can tell you that there is indeed some reason behind this announcement. What is it? We don’t know, but we’re putting our prediction on the table that it involves some sort of personal behavior...)

Politico, “Chaffetz won’t run for reelection in 2018,” April 19, 2017

“We did nothing wrong, OK?” said Roy Williams, North Carolina men’s basketball coach, about the NCAA investigation that  found  student athletes were in fact athletes but not students: receiving grades for classes that didn’t exist and having others write papers and do assignments for them. (Williams is living in a dream world, describing the investigation, resulting rumors and publicity as “that junk” instead of taking responsibility for the long-lasting fraud. This is an instance where everyone in authority failed their university, their sports and their recruits. What should Williams have said? How about, “we’re going to make major changes in everything we do.” Missing from this story are comments from the university’s leadership. Shameful.)

USA Today, “Cloud of NCAA investigation still hangs over North Carolina,” April 2, 2017

“I wasn’t sneaking out,” protested Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. His statement was in reference to an earlier meeting at the White House where he viewed classified material about whether the previous administration collected intelligence or surveilled the Trump campaign. (Whether or not it was proper for the committee chairman to review information without informing his colleagues, his protest after the fact that he wasn’t sneaking out was the Wrong Thing to Say. Having already made the decision to communicate with the administration, he needed to stoutly defend himself.)

CNBC, “Nunes defends his visit to the White House,” March 27, 2017

“It was not a scam,” whined rapper Ja Rule about the Fyre Festival, which wasn’t well-organized and resulted in incomplete events, no-show celebrities and other problems. (To make matters worse, he insisted, “This is not my fault.” He also said he was “heartbroken” and “I am deeply sorry to everyone who was inconvenienced.” He should have stuck to those comments. Note that the “scam” line became the headline. For more commentary, read our recent blog about the issue.)

Tribune 242, “‘Heartbroken’ Ja Rule: Fyre Festival Was Not a Scam,” April 29, 2017

“I leaked nothing to nobody,” insisted former Obama adviser Susan Rice. This was in response to the news that she asked for American citizens associated with then-candidate Trump to be included in surveillance reports by intelligence agencies, along with foreign (mainly Russian) operatives. She stated that the American names were redacted, but whether she was justified in requesting the names is not our concern. She went on to say, “The allegation is that somehow the Obama administration utilized intelligence for political purposes. That’s absolutely false.” As a communication issue, she also insisted that such requests were proper. Including the BIMBO comment only competed with her main message. )

The New York Times, “Susan Rice, Ex-Obama Advisor, Is Back in Political Cross Hairs Over Surveillance,” April 4, 2017

“I am not a Russian agent. I have never been engaged in any kind of espionage work,” said journalist Matt Taibbi who had been targeted by former British politician Louise Mensch for his articles charging that Mensch was hysterically fanning the flames of anti-Russian sentiment. (This is another example of how wild comments attract press attention. Mensch had been on numerous TV shows and interviewed by papers like The Guardian because she’s willing to say that there is a global conspiracy involving scores of people and institutions around the world. He should have used humor and said, “The next thing she’ll be claiming is that I am an alien from Mars.”)

BuzzFeed News, “Louise Mensch Has A List Of Suspected Russian Agents,” April 21, 2017

“There was no gang rape, no knife attack, and we did not charge anybody with rape because no rape occurred,” said Grant Loebs, a county prosecutor in Idaho commenting on a defamation lawsuit filed against Alex Jones, a radio host known for his outrageous commentary. The lawsuit was filed by yogurt company Chobani, which has made a point of employing refugees. (We’re beginning to think everyone has gone nuts. The founder of the company, himself a refugee, has been targeted with mean-spirited comments from people like Jones, who published the news of a sensational attack of a five-year-old girl by young boys who were refugees from Eritrea. Jones included a description of Chobani’s practice of hiring refugees, insinuating the company was complicit in the attacks. Loebs was trying to defuse the situation but ended up talking about rapes and attacks. He should have stuck to “the sensational charges are untrue and unfounded, and as prosecutors, we proceeded based on facts.”)

The New York Times, “Chobani Yogurt Sues Alex Jones Over Sex Assault Report,” April 25, 2017

THE WRONG THING TO SAY

“Hitler” is always a bad word – unless you’re actually talking about the German dictator. Press Secretary Sean Spicer had one of those moments of speaking before thinking when he condemned Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons on his own people saying that even Hitler “didn’t sink to using chemical weapons against his own people,” forgetting that Hitler sent millions of Jews and others to their deaths in gas chambers. To his credit, he recognized his mistake within hours and apologized. We thought he seemed authentic and genuinely sorry. (We’ve all said something without thinking and so have many clients—but not on such an international scale. This happened to be one the public won’t be so easy to let go.)

NBC News, “White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer Apologizes After Causing Uproar With Hitler Gaffe,” April 12, 2017

Adidas meant to congratulate and recognize participants in the Boston Marathon but they were tone deaf in their message, “Congrats, you survived the Boston Marathon!” Everyone remembers the 2013 marathon where two young men set off homemade bombs, wounding over 200 people and killing three. (This is an example where an independent set of eyes could have saved them a lot of trouble. A tweak would have worked: “Congratulations on successfully completing the Boston Marathon!”  They got it right in their follow up apology, saying “The Boston Marathon is one of the most inspirational sporting events in the world. Every year we’re reminded of the hope and resiliency of the running community at this event.” Note the amount of social media comments this generated.)

The Week, “Adidas wrote the worst email subject line of the day,” April 18, 2017

A Swedish department store announced a “damaged goods’ sale,” the problem was those “goods” were damaged in a terrorist attack. This was another instance where an independent set of eyes might have spared them. (The attack was launched by a man from Uzbekistan who stole a truck and drove it into the store, injuring 15 people and killing four. It probably would have been better to donate any damaged-but-still-useable product to charity.)

Breitbart, “Backlash After Swedish Department Store Announces Terror Attack ‘Damaged Goods’ Sale,” April 9, 2017

Cosmopolitan Magazine headlined a story about a cancer survivor’s struggles by noting how much weight she had lost, as if that were the most important element of the story. It was promoted in a clickbait tweet that made no mention of the woman’s bout with cancer, “How This Woman Lost 44 Pounds Without *ANY* Exercise.” (Cosmo deleted the tweet an hour after posting and retitled the story, but did not note the edit. Pretending like something never happened on social media is a bad way to go because, as Cosmo discovered, once you post something it will live forever.)

The Huffington Post, “Cosmo’s Headline About Cancer Survivor’s Weight Loss Is a Doozy,” April 11, 2017

InStyle magazine featured Amy Schumer in a swimsuit on its cover and posted the cover on its Instagram account. After the picture was posted, a bathing suit design company offered a snarky comment, “Come on now! You could not find someone better for the cover? Not everyone should be in a swimsuit.” Many others were quick to defend Schumer and condemn @SouthShoreSwimwear for the comment. (This is an interesting example because the commenter, Dana Duggan who owns South Shore Swimwear, not only didn’t apologize, she doubled down with her position, “Schumer is a self-proclaimed Cabbage Patch kid. She fat shames herself in her comedy routine,” adding, “What happened to the allure, the beauty and the mystique of high-fashion magazines? With the new PC culture anyone and everyone thinks they can be a cover girl swimsuit model and I don’t think it’s right. It may sound harsh but in my opinion, being overweight is not healthy, it’s not stylish, it’s not attractive.” Since the debate is still raging online, we’ll be interested to see if Duggan backs down or, if she doesn’t, if it hurts her business.)

The Boston Globe, “South Shore Swimwear facing backlash for Amy Schumer comments,” April 7, 2017

Klaus Kleinfeld, chairman and CEO of Arconic, penned a letter to activist investor, Paul Singer, who had been calling for his dismissal. The letter was full of sarcasm and innuendo implying that Singer had done bizarre, perhaps illegal, things during a soccer tournament. (The lesson here is that any communication is going to be shared and become public. In this case, it cost Kleinfeld his job. We think it was President Lincoln who advised a disgruntled colleague to write a letter full of stinging criticism – and put it in a drawer. One last comment: the press reports were very vague but mentioned things like an Indian headdress and climbing into a fountain to sing “Singing in the Rain.” All that did was pique people’s interest.)

The New York Times, “Before Ouster, Arconic C.E.O Accused Hedge Fund Founder of Wild Antics,” April 20, 2017

EXAMPLES OF NOTE

Ever feel overwhelmed by numbers, particularly the billions and trillions  featured in discussions around the federal budget? Make sure to catch the article reporting on two Microsoft researchers who created a protocol for how to understand numbers so large they are outside our normal perception. This is what we call making statistics “verbally visual.” That is, if you have to use a number, compare it to something to create a mental picture. One of our favorite examples involves a theft from a pharmacy in Canada of 2,400 grams of a drug. What’s that mean? Enough for 55,000 Viagra pills. Certainly more than anyone needs for a weekend! The article and research by Dr. Daniel Goldstein about a conservation group that reclaimed 100 million acres around the globe. What does that represent, he asked? The state of California.  (Now, if only they could reclaim the real California.)

The Wall Street Journal, “Grasping Giant Numbers Is Far From Second Nature,” March, 31, 2017

Social Media News: The New York Times got hip and set up a news sharing presence on Snapchat Discover. We’re agog to see how this works since the Times has steadfastly resisted the USA Today style of reporting, but – smart move – the Times will include “The Daily Mini,” a tiny version of the extremely popular Times crossword puzzle. Answers reveal by swiping up on the snap.

Mashable, “‘What we’re not doing is putting a newspaper on Snapchat’— New York Times joins Snapchat Discover,” April 24, 2017

Examples of delivery channels blurring: commercial companies are openly funding short films (they’re too artsy to be videos) by well-known artists and others, even publications like The Atlantic. They are theoretically to encourage examples of storytelling and they have their own award, the Tribeca X.  Lesson: whatever you’re doing, think of packaging it with a story or as a story. Not only do people not read these days, they don’t listen.

The New York Times, “The Ad Feels a Bit Like Oscar Bait, but It’s Trying to Sell You an iPhone,” April 2, 2017

Humor: Southwest Airlines again lives up to its reputation for using humor as part of its business model. With the horrible PR experience of United Airlines, a passenger contacted Southwest to complain that a flight attendant had been rude to her. An actual Southwest customer service agent, Linnea, replied immediately, asking for more information and offering to help her file a complaint. The passenger, Twitter user @xadoringpaige, sent a picture of Britney Spears in a flight attendant uniform from her “Toxic” music video. Linnea replied, “Oops, she did it again.” The whole incident went semi-viral with Southwest turning the exchange into an advertisement for their brand and values.

Elite Daily, “Airline Perfectly One-Ups Girl After She Tries To Troll Them With Fake Complaint,” April 12, 2017

U.K. Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn was asked if he would approve a drone strike on Islamic State leaders as Prime Minister. On a BBC interview, Corbyn ducked a question that was structured to ask for a yes or a no response. He didn’t have to say yes or no, he could have said “It hasn’t happened,” or “It depends.” Unfortunately, he bungled around for an answer and eventually spit out “I’m no supporter or defender in any way whatsoever of Isis.” This was a classic example where he could have used our technique of acknowledging the question and responding in a way that didn’t require a yes or no answer—or force him into a panic answer.

The Huffington Post, “Jeremy Corbyn: I Might Not Allow A Drone Strike On Isis Leader,” April 23, 2017

Late but great marketing idea: the International Bank Note Society has moved from invisibility to international prominence by creating a contest and award for the most beautiful “Bank Note of the Year.” This created a global frenzy of competition among the world’s mints and low and behold, currency is front page news. By the way, the winner was Canada with a $20 CAD bill featuring Queen Elizabeth II. Why did this work? It was incredibly visual. It was unique. Who doesn’t want a bunch of bills in their hand?

Bloomberg BusinessWeek, “The Oscars of Paper Currency,” Dec. 1, 2016

Everything went wrong: United Airlines’ latest disaster has generated a lot of attention and advice (featured on our own blog after Merrie was quoted in the Dallas Business Journal). The CEO lost his Chairmanship; it presumably cost millions of dollars to settle with the physician who had been dragged off the plane, with a broken nose and bloodied lip. The company was ridiculed for corporate speak that it had “re-accommodated” the passenger and for several iterations of a not-very-authentic apology. We have two additional comments to add. First, where were the risk managers and lawyers? They’re supposed to protect a company, and they failed miserably. The potential risk of dragging a paying passenger off a plane – where everyone has a cell phone and is guaranteed to record and share it – is many times the cost of chartering a plane or renting a car to get the United Crew (who needed to be truly “accommodated” to their destination.) Next, where was employee empowerment? In operating rooms today, any nurse is empowered to stop an operation if he or she sees something wrong. That philosophy is supposed to have come from the airline industry and the cockpit. What happened to applying it to the rest of the plane? 

The Washington Post, “'Re-accommodate’? United ridiculed for corporate speak response to passenger dragging,” April 11, 2017   



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