Bimbo Banter

BIMBO Nominees for May 2018

  • Bimbo
  • April 30, 2018
  • by Spaeth Communications

Bimbo blog image e

This month we have BIMBOs from former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, two councilmen – one in Texas and another in D.C. – and, even, two ads from a wealth management firm. See also an example of the wrong thing to say from star-counselor Tony Robbins, a twisted statistic about starving college students, excellent articles proving words matter and a suspect psychology study on smiling.


“It was not an alien,” insisted astronaut Buzz Aldrin about an “unidentified” object outside the spaceship on the way to the moon in 1969. (This is a hilarious story, mainly worth reading as an example of what our president loves to call “fake news.” Although the claim that Aldrin saw an alien outside Apollo 11 made headlines and had all the trappings of news, including a “‘scientific’ organization” and the claim that Aldrin passed a lie detector test, all the facts had only a grain of truth. Spoiler alert: what astronauts saw was probably a panel that had separated from the ship. An alien is a much better story.)

USA Today, “No, Buzz Aldrin did not see an alien on his trip to the moon,” April 13, 2018


“I don’t expect there will be a trade war… It could be, but I don’t expect it at all,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in what was hardly a rousing vote of confidence. (Like so many of these examples, he also had positive quotes. He said the intention is to “continue to have discussions with China.” Remember what theater impresario Billy Rose said, “Never make predictions—especially about the future.”)

The Wall Street Journal, “Trump Officials Soften Tone on Trade Dispute With China,” April 8, 2018

“I’m not the Brett Favre girl,” insisted Jenn Sterger. (Who was it that said, “some people are famous for being famous?” Sterger was apparently the recipient of unwanted attention from quarterback Brett Favre a decade and a half ago, and her accusations got a lot of attention in the sports pages at the time. According to the news story, she has decided to cash in this ticket to fame – again – while posing for a provocative picture. Naturally, the quote became the headline.)

For the Win, “'I'm not the Brett Favre girl': Jenn Sterger speaks out in hopes of helping others,” April 17, 2018

“I’m not a journalist jack ass. I’m a talk host,” tweeted Fox star Sean Hannity. This comment was widely circulated after the judge in Michael Cohen’s case unaccountably insisted that Cohen read aloud the names of clients in open court. (Interestingly, Hannity tweeted this in October 2016, but it was nevertheless resurrected and circulated in recent weeks! However outrageous it may be that Hannity’s name was mentioned in federal courts in connection with a separate matter, this example is proof that it is best to avoid BIMBO comments, as, fair or unfair, they may come back to haunt you!)

“I am not calling Donald Trump a fascist,” said former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. (Wait! Before you jump to conclusions, this is another example of picking up each other’s words but in an unexpected way. Our dear friend Hugh Hewitt was interviewing Albright about her new book, “Fascism: A Warning.” During the interview, he clarified, “You’re not calling Trump a fascist, but you are warning about…,” and, predictably, Albright repeated the salacious claim.)

Hugh Hewitt, “Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright On Her New Book ‘Fascism: A Warning,’” April 12, 2018

“I don’t get confused,” said UN Ambassador Nikki Haley responding to new-to-the-job Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow, who called her momentarily “confused” when she predicted new sanctions against Russia. (Apparently, the Trump administration had decided not to increase sanctions but neglected to tell its UN Ambassador. Another error from the administration based on words.)

Bloomberg, “Trump Considering New Russia Sanctions Despite ‘Confusion,’ Kudlow Says,” April 17, 2018

“I am not resigning, I’m not backing down, I’m not discouraged, I’m not depressed,” said D.C. City Council member Trayon White Sr. over  growing controversy for his alleged anti-Semitism and a donation he made to the Nation of Islam convention. (At the convention to which White donated money, Nation of Islam founder, Louis Farrakhan, attacked “powerful Jews” and credited them for “the existence of transgender people” in Hollywood. An interesting story because Farrakhan’s views and comments have been public for so long and also because White argued that he didn’t agree with everything Farrakhan said, but that people should accept his position. That’s a worthy and civil argument and we’ll see if those on the extremes of political discourse agree. Note that one of the negative phrases appeared in the headline.)

The Washington Post, “Under fire for Farrakhan donation, D.C. lawmaker Trayon White says he’s ‘not backing down,’” April 21, 2018

“I am neither a racist nor a bigot,” said Plano (Texas) Councilman Tom Harrison. He’s facing a recall after refusing to step down when he received criticism for posting an inflammatory comment on Facebook: “Share if you think Trump should ban Islam in American schools.” He included a picture of students wearing hijabs. (He’s gone. So much is wrong with his post, including that it promotes violating the First Amendment. He says he did it to start a conversation, but the way to do that would have been to say, “Let’s start a conversation about different religions in schools and how that may change how we teach American history and other uniquely American topics.” But, Harrison instead has dug his hole too deep.)

The Dallas Morning News, “4,400-plus sign petition to recall Plano councilman over ‘ban Islam’ post, other shared images,” April 4, 2018

“We are NOT BROKERS,” screamed one ad for Fisher Investments, an independent wealth management firm, and another that said, “I HATE Annuities. And you should too.” (Interesting. We normally pay a lot of deference to the marketing folks, as they usually do research, test their material, etc., but here, what sticks in your mind? “Brokers” and “hate”? Me too.)


Even CEO-counselor and life coach Tony Robbins had a comeuppance with the #MeToo movement. (Background: Robbins, who has made millions as a semi-bombastic motivational speaker, initially said that some abuse victims were using the movement to “make themselves significant.” Clearly, this isn’t the time to be the voice of nuance. The mob rolled over him, and he, like others, had to abase himself and apologize. He ended up describing the movement effusively as “a beautiful force for good.” Robbins gets the “you did it to yourself” nod; however, he did use one of his trademark presentation approaches. He invited the questioner up on stage and tried to role play with her. He’s 6’7” and she was about 5’5”. This failed and the optics killed his otherwise reasonable point. I’ve seen Robbins do this with CEOs when he brings them on stage and tells them to drop and give him 10 pushups. He violated Spaeth principle No. 1, which is always to ask, “Who’s my audience?”)

CBS News, “Tony Robbins rips some sex abuse victims for trying to ‘make themselves significant,’” April 9, 2018

This article is another example of how statistics often generate news stories, but when further examined, turn out to be highly suspect. Temple University and Wisconsin’s HOPE Lab released a study generating a headline that college kids are “starving” and purported to find that 36 percent of four-year college students and 42 percent of community college students are “food insecure.” Additionally, the study found that gay students were at greater risk and bisexual students at highest risk of food insecurity. The study falls apart when you realize that only 10 percent of students surveyed responded and that students were enticed to fill out the survey by the chance to win $100 prizes. Those ambitious enough to research survey specifics found participants were asked questions like whether they ever “feared ‘food would run out before I got money to buy more.’” Contrast with the more dependable statistic that 70 percent of students gain weight during their undergraduate years and this study is one more example of why readers of such publications are dwindling.

USA Today, “Starvation issues in universities? The real college problem is obesity.,” April 11, 2018


A good example of the power of words and honing the effectiveness of employees as ambassadors results from the debate over genetically-modified foods, which is growing as technology like Crispr plough ahead. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun.) The International Seed Federation produced a 12-page “how to talk about” the gene-editing technologies paper. It included tips like refer to “plant breeding methods,” not “techniques or technologies.” Those working in agriculture are also being encouraged to train to become “research ambassadors” to explain modern agriculture methods to consumers. This sounds like the old “go talk to folks” outreach programs we have championed for years. Go Green!)

The Wall Street Journal, “Is This Tomato Engineered? Inside the Coming Battle Over Gene-Edited Food,” April 15, 2018

Another study examining how words matter comes from Stanford University. This one looks at how metaphors affect perception and the article is worth reading (even if the study is not). The article shows how pervasive metaphors are in our society. For instance, “We describe time as money…, arguments as war …, love as a journey…,” etc. The article also argues why metaphors and, more generally, “words matter.” Describing an effort as a “‘war’ rather than a ‘race’” for instance can affect how the audience remembers or perceives an issue. As mentioned, this article reinforces our own decades of teaching and is worth a look!)

Quartz, “Metaphors can change our opinions in ways we don’t even realize,” March 31, 2018

The University of Wisconsin psychology department has been busy working on a study with the goal of trying to find out just why emotions show up on our faces, particularly in a smile. This is another one of the “worth a look, but we have real reservations” articles. At least these researchers disclose that only 90 participants, all undergraduates and all males, were the lab rats. In theory, the study found that people react differently to different kinds of smiles. It’s a topic we’re interested in and is why we benchmark our clients’ facial expressions on camera.)

The Wall Street Journal, “Smiles Hide Many Messages—Some Unfriendly,” April 5, 2018     


Heineken is getting slammed for its ad campaign ending with, “sometimes lighter is better.” The ad promotes their light beer and features a bartender sliding a bottle of beer down a bar to a woman who is noticeably lighter-skinned than the others at the bar. In our view, Heineken got a lot of attention and got away with a statement they released that didn’t apologize but highlighted their marketing message: “While we feel the ad is referencing our Heineken Light beer, and that light beer is better than other high-calorie options—we missed the mark, are taking the feedback to heart and will use this to influence future campaigns.”

CNN, “Heineken pulls ‘Sometimes lighter is better’ ad after racism claims,” March 27, 2018 


Just after we figured out how to navigate Nextdoor, along came Modern Message, the brain child of two Dallas entrepreneurs. It is a combination of a newsletter and community engagement tool/app for apartment communities. When residents complete tasks in their complex, they can use the platform to accrue reward points. This is significant because the idea of being a first-mover to gather the electronic addresses and involvement of everyone in a complex proves a new network of communication and adds another new network to the Influence Model.

Dallas Business Journal, “40 Under 40: John Hinckley, CEO, Modern Message,” March 2018


The BIMBO Memo is a reminder not to repeat and deny a negative word because of how the listener hears words. When you repeat and deny a negative word, the listener is likely to overlook the denial and hear the opposite of what the speaker is trying to say. It’s named for the young woman who was caught with a high profile, but alas married man. She held a press conference and announced, “I am not a BIMBO,” thus causing everyone to think she was.

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