Bimbo Banter


BIMBO Nominees for November 2015


  • Bimbo
  • November 1, 2015
  • by Spaeth Communications

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What a full month of BIMBOs and blunders! We bundled the presidential campaigns separately and see additional BIMBOs from the co-founder of a “Yelp for People” app to an attorney for a coal company CEO. We have examples of “Wrong Thing to Say” from James Bond and a Dallas Cowboy along with several nicely documented examples of how words in questions get repeated back. And many more!

THE WINNING BIMBO

“I have never dismembered a goat in my life,” said Augustus Sol Invictus, the Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate in Florida. (The unusual statement came to light when the chairman of the state party resigned in protest of Invictus’ candidacy. Invictus is a self-described member of Thelema, a religion established by an occultist 100 years ago. Invictus was expelled from Thelema’s fraternal organization. According to Invictus’ story, he spent a week fasting in the desert and then carried out a pagan ritual where he killed a goat and drank its blood. We are entirely sympathetic with party chairman Adrian Wyllie, who is recruiting candidates to oppose Invictus. This is the first time the phrase, “Goat sacrifice,” has been in a headline to our knowledge.)

Politico Florida, “Libertarian Party drama: Goat sacrifice, eugenics and a chair’s resignation,” Oct. 1, 2015

THE RUNNERS-UP

“I can tell you emphatically that Platte River Networks does not believe that any cover up has occurred,” said Andy Boian, spokesman for the company that housed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails. (The scope of the FBI investigation expanded with the discovery that a second tech firm, Datto, was hired to provide back-up to Platte River Networks. Boian would have done much better to emphasize that Platte River was cooperating with the FBI and was committed to transparency. “Cover up” is one of the worst phrases in the political lexicon.)

The Washington Post, “FBI probe of Clinton e-mail expanded to second data company,” Oct. 7, 2015

“We’re not the grossest,” claimed Anne Madden, a postdoctoral researcher working on developing yeasts from unusual substances for craft beers. (Madden is using insects; her comparative comment was based on other brew masters’ uses of hair from a beard described as “worthy of Duck Dynasty,” bull testicles, caramelized moose head, black truffles, decaying produce and even pond scum. Lest you think this is a localized party event, it’s become an international controversy as Germany decrees no ingredients other than hops, water, malt and yeast can be included in beer. It turns out that you can find yeast in places no one thought of before. And with good reason.)

The Wall Street Journal, “Tough Day? How About a Frosty Schooner of Pizza or Pond Scum?” Oct. 9, 2015

“We will not be shamed into submission,” said Julia Cordray, co-founder of a company with an app that lets people rate other people. That’s right. Like Yelp, except you can trash your neighbor or cubicle mate. (Reaction was swift – and negative. One thing you can count on, when someone says “never,” it’s bound to be. Sure enough, four days later, Julia retreated and announced that the app will be opt-in, meaning that you’ll have to join in order to be reviewed by your pals. Now, how’s that going to work? The problem with the way Julia announced it was that she missed the opportunity to get her message out, which should have been that the app would provide you, the user, with the kind of feedback you really need but rarely get.)

The Washington Post, “After Internet backlash, Peeple co-founder will revise her app to make it ‘positive,’” Oct. 5, 2015

“No one misled them on anything,” said Fred Carl Jr., the founder of Viking Range, maker of high end kitchen appliances, which he sold to Middleby Corp. Middleby, also on an acquisition binge, slashed costs, laid off workers and ended up recalling over 100,000 products because of quality issues. Selim Bassoul, Middleby’s CEO, accused Viking and Carl of hiding the quality problems, leading to Carl’s BIMBO response, which he compounded by describing recalls as, “Pretty much every manufacturer experiences them from time to time.” (Carl, who has left Viking and Middleby, should have said, “Viking built up a unique market niche and we knew our customers and what they expect. It’s important to closely monitor and maintain the processes we developed 30 years ago.”)

The Wall Street Journal, “Middleby Chases Fame in the Kitchen,” Oct. 19, 2015

“The evidence will show that Mr. Blankenship did not believe that the way to make money in the coal business is to run roughshod on regulations,” said William Taylor, attorney for Don Blankenship, the former CEO of Massey Energy, the company that suffered an explosion in 2010 resulting in 29 deaths. Blankenship is on trial, charged with keeping the operations understaffed, lying to regulators and faking safety records. (Taylor argued that Blankenship ran a huge company with extensive operations, so he should have said, “Mr. Blankenship was committed to making the company profitable while keeping employees safe and complying with the mountain of federal and state regulations. Put yourself in his shoes, and imagine how you would feel if someone recorded one conversation you had and tried to make it represent everything you stood for.”)

The Wall Street Journal, “Opening Statements Heard in West Virginia Mine Blast Case,” Oct. 7, 2015

Claiming it had “absolutely no solvency issues,” Glencore, a Swiss commodities trading and production company, responded to charges that its acquisition of Xstrata, then the world’s largest coal exporter, wasn’t a horrendous mistake as commodity prices tanked. (Glencore also said that their business was “Operationally and financially robust.” They should have quit there. This was a classic example of a message that was only partially developed. The headline, “operationally and financially robust,” was excellent, but they didn’t have any proof point so they felt the need to keep talking, continuing with the inverted, “absolutely no solvency issues,” which calls its headline claim into question.)

Bloomberg Business, “Glencore Says It ‘Remains Operationally and Financially Robust,’” Sept. 29, 2015

“He is making no plans to leave,” said a spokesperson for Bloomberg LP about Bloomberg Media CEO Justin Smith in response to rumors that he would be leaving the company and his “Bloomberg Politics” TV show. (This was another case of a positive statement that seesawed back and forth between positive and negative. The full quote was: “Justin Smith is very happy at Bloomberg and his strong results speak for themselves. He is making no plans to leave. Any suggestion to the contrary is false. He and Mike have a great working relationship.” They should have left out “making no plans to leave” and the line that the rumors were false. We bet that they didn’t articulate the line before speaking or sending it.)

TalkingBizNews, “Bloomberg supports Smith, Politics Operation,” Oct. 2, 2015

Speaker John Boehner said he was leaving with “no regrets and no burden.” (The departing speaker should have said he was leaving “with pride in having served this great country.” Unfortunately, the BIMBO comment grabbed attention in what was otherwise a moving farewell speech. He should have started his speech with his next line, “If anything, I leave the way I started. Just a regular guy, humbled by the chance to do a big job. That’s what I’m most proud of. I’m still just me, the same guy who came here 25 years ago as a small business man and spent all these 25 years trying to just be me.”)

Breitbart, “John Boehner Farewell: ‘I leave with no regrets, no burdens,’” Oct. 29, 2015

FAINT PRAISE

“Hillary Clinton is not half-baked in terms of her approach to these problems,” said President Obama when asked about former Secretary of State Clinton’s change of policy and her decision to support a no-fly zone in Syria, which the president has opposed. (The president also provided an example of what used to be called “damning with faint praise,” saying, “There is a difference between running for president and being president.” We’re not sure where the term “half-baked” came from, but it clearly wasn’t a positive comment, especially as a BIMBO. Note the comment made it to the headline. The day before, the president said that Syria was “not some superpower chessboard contest” between the U.S and Russia and that, “We’re not going to make Syria into a proxy war between the United States and Russia,” which became the headline. We’ve diplomatically moved back from what he should have said and resigned ourselves to pointing out the misstatements and how they crowd out the alternative, more positive statement.)

YahooNews, “Obama says Clinton not ‘half-baked’ for support of Syria no-fly zone,” Oct. 3, 2015

BAD WORDS

“We attribute our success, as I say often, to stubbornness and stupidity,” said Steve Stepp, president of National Audio Co, which makes cassette tapes, a product not yet driven into extinction by new technologies. It turns out many people still prefer the sound of audio tapes. (The story was actually very positive with good quotes that point out that many consumers prefer the allegedly warmer sound of analog. However, it’s never a good idea to insult your customers.)

NBCNews, “Old School Cassettes Make Comeback as Consumers Yearn for the Antique,” Oct. 4, 2015

“She was not uninvited,” said “a person close to” the Democrat National Committee, creating a flap about whether the vice chairwoman, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Hawaii, was unceremoniously dissed. The congresswoman had been urging the DNC to schedule additional debates rather than creating a path that advantaged Hillary Clinton, a strategy urged by DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. (To us, this is the proverbial tempest in a teapot, but it’s also an example of how charges get bounced back and forth and amplified by the media. Note the charge made it into the headline. Wasserman Schultz’s effort was to try to portray Gabbard’s comments as a “distraction,” which didn’t do much to help the discussion.)

The New York Times, “D.N.C. Office Says She Was Disinvited from Debate After Calling for More of Them,” Oct. 12. 2015

“You’re not alone or crazy,” said actress Hayden Panettiere about the potentially devastating results of postpartum depression. (Panettiere raised an important issue and spoke passionately about it. She also said that the condition was scary and women need a lot of support. We include it as example of how the “alone or crazy” line took precedence over the “needs support” line, which is probably what Panettiere would have preferred.)

Huffington Post, “Hayden Panettiere to Moms with Postpartum Depression: ‘You’re Not Alone or Crazy,” Sep. 29, 2015

“So sorry to disappoint, but no home wreckers or secret flings going on here,” said actors Kaley Cuoco and Johnny Galecki. (This is one of those complicated Hollywood celebrity couplings in which we have no interest but a sizeable audience does follow them. Cuoco is divorcing her husband after only 21 months. She and Galecki used to date but are now “just the best of buds.” Back to husband, tennis pro Ryan Sweeting, whom she gushed over only a few weeks ago. Now that she’s dumping him, friends couldn’t wait to tell the tabloids that Cuoco “realized she wants to be with a guy who has a job and is motivated.” Ouch!)

MSN Entertainment, “Kaley Cuoco and Johnny Galecki Slam Dating Rumors: 'No Home Wreckers or Secret Flings,’” Oct. 14, 2015

BAD WORDS AND SIMILAR EXAMPLES

“Ketchup” has never showed up on the bad word list before, but here’s an example. American Express had a long term and lucrative relationship with Costco through a co-branded credit card. But Costco started looking at other cards that had lower fees. AmEx made a passionate pitch to Costco that they weren’t just an affinity card but “trusted partners,” only to have Costco’s CEO reply that AmEx was just another vendor, like the people who provided “ketchup.” That caused uproar within American Express, which pulled out of the relationship. This is an interesting story because it also contains the nugget that AmEx journeyed to Costco with elaborate PowerPoint decks—another reminder that PowerPoint is only a presentation tool, not the presentation itself. A bad deck can actually interfere with the ability to connect with the audience.

Bloomberg Business, “How Bad Will it Get for American Express?”  Oct. 15, 2015

“When people know of me but they don’t really know the work, they hear the term ‘feminist’ or ‘sexual violence prevention’ they think ‘super extreme, bra burning feminism.’” (This story would be hilarious if it weren’t so painful and potentially damaging. Apparently campus activists who are pushing the “yes means yes” movement, which requires specific assent at each level of sexual activity are finding it hard to hook up with men. One recounted meeting someone on Tinder and setting a time to hook up, then telling the prospective date, “I know the chief of police… so, don’t try to get creepy; I know all my rights.” The man wrote back, “I get very bad vibes from that, so we shouldn’t hang out anymore.” She reported feeling enraged by his response.)

New York Magazine, “Hooking Up When You’re an Anti-Rape Activist,” Oct. 23, 2015

WRONG THING TO SAY

Daniel Craig said he would rather “slash his wrists” than do another Bond movie. (Does this seem a tad ungrateful? Most actors are grateful to have any work, let alone expect to be a major star participating in an international franchise. The Twitterverse lit up with comments like “This dude needs a reality check.” We agree. This quote was actually a very small comment in an extensive interview. The lesson? The negative will always get picked up.)

New York Post, “Daniel Craig told to ‘shut up’ and stop bashing Bond movie,” Oct. 11, 2015

Greg Hardy, who joined the Dallas Cowboys roster this fall, needs some coaching on how to deal with the press. The potential star got into trouble in 2014 when he body slammed his then-girlfriend onto a couch and threatened to kill her. Charges were eventually dropped in February. He called his time away “the most awesome period of my life.” Instead of taking his opportunity back in the public eye to apologize, he gushed about Tom Brady’s model wife. While these encounters may be stylized rituals, domestic violence—particularly among pro athletes—is a serious issue. Hardy demonstrated a lack of maturity by talking about the appearance of other women. He’s not only potentially hurting himself; he’s hurting the Cowboys’ brand

CNN, “No apologies from Greg Hardy as he talks about Tom Brady’s wife,”  Oct. 8, 2015

POWER OF NEGATIVE WORDS

Clinton-ally Lanny Davis was on a train complaining loudly about the coverage of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, calling VP Joe Biden a “buffoon,” Bernie Sanders “a nut,” complaining that Hillary wasn’t “shrill” as some reporters were saying but rather “strident,” and on and on. (Unfortunately, others were on the train, too, sitting right across from Davis. A reporter from Townhall wrote about the conversation but didn’t identify Davis. The story provoked controversy about Townhall’s coverage, which revealed Davis as the complainer. Lesson? There’s always a microphone, and today, everyone’s a reporter.)

Townhall.com, “Loose Lips: Longtime Clinton Ally Trashes ‘Buffoon’ Biden, ‘Sanctimonious Flip-Flopper’ Sanders in Train Ride Rant,” Oct. 9, 2015

An example of how we pick up and repeat words comes from an exchange between Bill Maher and blogger Andrew Sullivan:  Sullivan, criticizing Hillary Clinton, said “She’s a talent-free hack!” and Maher responded, “She’s not ‘talent free,’ Andrew! And she’s not a hack!” contributing a classic BIMBO to the collection. Then, moving into the unwarranted insult category, Maher asked why Sullivan appeared to hate Clinton, asking, “Were you molested by a real estate lady?” (We surmise that Maher had in his mind the stereotype of the well-dressed, always with make-up and styled hair realtor. Wait, that’s not a stereotype! That’s the prototype of female realtors, God bless them. Since we just lost legend Ebby Halliday at age 104, we don’t appreciate the slam on the industry, but we have to admit that Mrs. Clinton is always well-dressed.)

Salon, “’Were you molested by a real estate lady?’ Bill Maher and Andrew Sullivan’s shocking Hillary Clinton clash,” Oct. 10, 2015

A similar example of words bouncing back and forth comes from a question and answer session at Hunter College where publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. was challenged by an audience member who felt the paper’s coverage of Hillary Clinton was biased. She characterized reporter Amy Chozick as “a right winger” because she used to work for the Wall Street Journal, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s company. New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet replied, “Amy Chozick’s not a right winger,” to which the questioner then attacked the Times for writing about Peter Schweizer’s book, “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich” and described him as a “right wing crackpot.” Baquet replied, “We take information from all kinds of crackpots.” (The lesson for this example and the Bill Maher one above is that negative words crowd out the message the speaker probably intended. In the article reporting the Sulzberger exchange, Baquet tried to convince the crowd that “We are aggressive on all the candidates,” but the back and forth of negative words occupied the bulk of the article.”)

Politico, “Dean Baquet defends N.Y.Times Clinton coverage,” Oct. 12, 2015

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN EXAMPLES

JEB BUSH had the winning BIMBO, responding that his campaign is “not on life support,” following what is generally acknowledged to be a lackluster performance in the last debate. (This is yet another example of reporter-planted words. The phrase “life support” came at him in a question, and he spit it back, generating many repetitions. A similar BIMBO was to respond to the question about whether it was a “mistake” to turn on his friend and protégé, Sen. Rubio. His response, “It wasn’t a mistake,” and, of course, it was a mistake and Rubio got the better of that exchange. He would have been better off to be honest. He also said, “We have the most money,” which is true but wouldn’t have been our choice for a quote since it reinforces that he’s a member of an elite dynasty. In the Wrong Thing to Say category, he was apparently annoyed at how events were going, and he spit out, “I’ve got a lot of really cool things I could do other than sit around being miserable, listening to people demonize me and me feeling compelled to demonize them. That is a joke. Elect Trump if you want that.” Wow! Again, it may be a pro forma script but candidates have to stay Reagan-esque and insist that things are going along nicely. At another event, Bush talked about how universities needed reform but offered the unfortunate insult “that psych major deal, that philosophy major thing, that’s great… but realize you’re going to be working at Chick-fil-A.” Ouch. He should have picked a generic major or gone after something really obscure. Bottom line: it was a mixed month.)

Boston Herald, “Jeb Bush on the Defensive in New Hampshire,” Oct. 29, 2015

HILLARY CLINTON: Former Secretary of State Clinton’s winning BIMBO was, “I did not email during the day,” as the FBI investigation into the matter expanded to include a second, hitherto-undisclosed data management firm and the state department released thousands more emails, showing emails to aides and friends during regular working hours. Clinton supporters didn’t do much to help her. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Miss., tried to defend her saying, “I really don’t think this is an indication that she is somehow unprincipled or weak.” Clinton’s biggest blunder was stating rival Sen. Sanders, I-Vt., was accusing her of “shouting,” and claiming that “Sometimes when a woman speaks out, some people think it’s shouting.” This line – basically saying “Did you notice I’m a woman?” – was widely panned by commentators across the political spectrum.

Breitbart, “Hillary Clinton: ‘I did not email during the day,’” Oct. 22, 2015

MARCO RUBIO: “I’m not missing votes because I’m on vacation,” snapped Sen. Rubio, R-Fla., in this BIMBO after a Florida paper chewed him out for missing multiple votes. In the Wrong Thing to Say category, he said, “I don’t know that ‘hate’ is the right word,” responding to reports and questions that he was totally frustrated by gridlock in the senate and “hated” it. One more example of how words bounce back and forth and how negative words have much higher velocity than positive ones.

Sun Sentinel, “Marco Rubio should resign, not rip us off,” Oct. 27, 2015

DONALD TRUMP:  “I’m not a masochist,” said Trump, responding to a question about what could cause him to quit the presidential race. He also went after candidate Ben Carson, calling him “very low-energy.” Trump’s best message is about his own independence and his call to “make America great again.”

The New York Times, “From Donald Trump, Hints of Campaign Exit Strategy,” Oct. 9, 2015

BEN CARSON:  Dr. Carson commented on the mass shooting at the community college in Roseburg, Oregon, by saying he would have rushed the shooter, and “I never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away.” This was the Wrong Thing to Say and the wrong moment to raise doubts about the victims’ reaction or courage and to plug for the Second Amendment. We continue to urge him to stick to his inspiring message that good things will happen if you stay in school, work hard, read a lot and get (and stay!) married.

Rolling Stone, “Ben Carson: ‘Body with Bullet Holes’ Preferable to Gun Control,” Oct. 6, 2015   

MIKE HUCKABEE: The former governor tweeted out “I trust Bernie Sanders with my tax dollars like I trust a North Korean chef with my labrador!” The tweet was actually sent by the candidate’s campaign during the Democratic debate. It’s the Wrong Thing to Say because, again, it may get attention but it does nothing to promote his ideas.

NBC News, “Huckabee: I Trust Bernie Sanders ‘Like I Trust a North Korean Chef’ With My Dog,’” Oct. 13, 2015

BERNIE SANDERS: Sen. Sanders, I-Vt., didn’t have many blunders during the month – leaving aside his policy proposals – but he did introduce the words “political revolution” into the debate, words that may come back to haunt him. Our bet is that American voters want a lot of change but are queasy about “revolution.” He also put a little distance between himself and Clinton by saying, “I’m not gonna tell you we’re bosom buddies.”

The Huffington Post, “Bernie Sanders: Hillary Clinton And I Are Not ‘Bosom Buddies,’ Good to know,” Oct. 1, 2015

SOCIAL MEDIA

The point of this story isn’t that someone loaded the audio from a pornographic movie into a Target store intercom; it’s that someone immediately produced a cell phone to record it for two minutes. Once more, we repeat: everyone is a reporter and the chances increase that every moment can be amplified. The only way to deal with potential problems is to enlist your employees or compatriots and tell a positive story pro-actively. This includes having a message, images and a narrative that competes with unexpected situations.

News 96.5, “Porn broadcast over Target store intercom,” Oct. 15, 2015

Picture of the month: it was a tough choice between “pizza rat,” the brave little rat dragging a piece of pizza three times bigger than he was down a subway step in New York City and the Subway mouse. We opt for the Subway mouse, the dead mouse ostensibly found in a Subway sandwich. This horrifying picture went viral. We always thought the picture looked too obvious, and we had a hard time imagining how the mouse went unnoticed, but we never saw a follow-up story revealing the story to be a hoax. Apparently, the rodent came from “the bagged spinach product” and not the store itself. When asked what vendor supplied the spinach, Subway replied: "We don’t share information about our suppliers as this is proprietary." This was a disaster for Subway but mystifying as a communication issue.

KGW.com Portland, “Subway customer with rodent in sandwich: 'It was unfortunate,’” Oct. 14, 2015



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