Bimbo Banter

BIMBO Nominees for November 2018

  • Bimbo
  • November 1, 2018
  • by Spaeth Communications

Bimbo blog image h

This month, BIMBOs from Sen. Claire McCaskill, former Google executive Andy Rubin, a Georgia Democrat, a mother mad at President Emmanuel Macron, a mob-justifying comment from a director at the University of Minnesota and, even, a historical BIMBO from 1937. Also included is maybe the worst example of the “Wrong Thing To Say” from the Catholic League and Nebraska’s new attempt to lure tourists. A great example of making statistics verbally visual and further proof that fun is more than just a good time courtesy of the Nebraska women’s volleyball team. You’ll also find a good quote from Lowe’s new CEO and a shout out to the Allstate Foundation. 


“I don’t think it’s even close to a crisis,” said Ford Motor Chairman William Ford Jr. (He was speaking at an event celebrating the 100th anniversary of the company’s Rouge Complex. The remarks coincided with the company losing money overseas, announcing a major reorganization designed to cut staff and costs, while dealing with criticism that its CEO, Jim Hackett, is failing to swiftly address the company’s issues and prepare for the future. The story contained additional missteps. Asked if the company might expand partnerships, Ford said, “We don’t ever rely on a partner to fix things for us,” which unfortunately buried the preferred comment: “Partnerships can help with capital intensity and things like that.” Here we got two bimbos for the price of one when an analyst turned to and asked Hackett if he would still be around in future years to assess the results of the planned changes. Hackett replied, “I think there should be zero question about that.” This is a yes/no “framing” question to which he should have replied, “I certainly plan to be.” C-suite executives need to learn to respond to these kinds of semi-gotcha questions with a confident, self-deprecating tone.)

The New York Times, “Ford, an Automaker at a Crossroads, Seeks Cuts and Partners,” Oct. 5, 2018


“There is no corruption in the city of Tallahassee,” stated Mayor Pro Tempore Curtis Richardson defending Mayor Andrew Gillum, who is now running for governor. (The controversy stemmed from numerous contracts Gillum had pushed through for cronies of his who promoted his career and now lobby the city. Richardson amplified the issue by continuing, “It’s not like it’s systemic corruption, and multiple individuals are involved, and it’s from the top down. It’s not that at all.” Apparently this is just occasional, here-and-there corruption. Also trying to defend payments to lobbyists and others who, in some cases, were compensating the mayor for consulting, a former city commissioner protested, “But all of us who’ve been involved in politics sometimes wind up in the wrong room with the wrong guy.” The issue is not likely to go away, as the F.B.I. is investigating one of the city’s agencies for—you guessed it—corruption. Gillum also made a racially-charged BIMBO comment about his opponent during a gubernatorial debate: “I’m not saying Mr. DeSantis is a racist, I’m simply saying the racists believe he’s a racist…” Wow, that’s three repetitions of the word “racist” in one sentence. Of course he’s labeling DeSantis a “racist.”)

The New York Times, “Andrew Gillum, a Florida Insider Running as a Progressive Outsider,” Oct. 18, 2018

“This is not about creating a pink ghetto,” protested Chrystia Freeland, a top Canadian diplomat who convened a meeting of female foreign ministers from around the world. (Of course it’s about creating a women’s organization. At the summit, Freeland also announced an ambassador’s position for “women, peace and security.” The phrase “pink ghetto” came straight from Freeland. They can’t blame the reporters for this one. As happens so frequently, the right thought was present: “This is about highlighting the importance and the role and the rights of women and girls in the world.” What would have been wrong with calling it that?)

SBS News, “The historic meeting of women foreign ministers that went unnoticed,” Sept. 29, 2018

"I'm not trying to humiliate 'em or anything like that,” said Butts County, Georgia Sheriff Gary Long in response to his decision to post "no-trick-or-treat" signs in the yards of registered sex offenders. (Long continued, “Let's face reality: We have a greater chance of children getting run over by a car [on Halloween] than being a victim of sexual assault by a repeat offender," which should be a good example of misuse of statistics because despite the very low risk, the concept of a child being sexually assaulted is so horrifying that we don’t process it rationally. His best line, as so often happens, was buried: "But at the end of the day if, in fact, we had a child that fell victim to a sexual assault, especially by a convicted sex offender, I don't think I could sleep at night." Want to hear something really scary? “Long told CBS News there are 54 registered sex offenders in Butts County.” We think he should have started by saying, “The safety of the children in this county is my top priority.” Instead, he rattled off some truly frightening quotes!)

CBS News, “Sheriff’s office posts ‘no-trick-or-treat’ signs in yards of registered sex offenders,” Oct. 31, 2018

“Yep and Claire’s not one of those crazy Democrats,” was how one of Sen. Claire McCaskill’s own radio ads described her in the closing days of the election. (Rarely do candidates describe their own party colleagues as “crazy,” and State Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal didn’t appreciate it. She blasted McCaskill, noting that she “is calling her base in the urban areas crazy Democrats and she’s relying on those so-called crazy Democrats to make sure she wins.” The ad received national attention and McCaskill escalated the negative fallout during an interview with Fox’s Bret Baier. When Baier asked McCaskill to name specific Democrats, McCaskill replied, “I would not call my colleagues crazy” and then proceeded to name Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. During the Baier interview, McCaskill did enough twisting and shapeshifting to make Cirque de Soleil proud. We really don’t have any advice here. Note the salacious phrase made the headline. See you after November 6.)

CNN, “McCaskill campaign’s closing pitch: She’s ‘not one of those crazy Democrats,’” Oct. 24, 2018

“Specifically, I never coerced a woman to have sex in a hotel room” said Andy Rubin, former high-level Google executive and the creator of Android mobile software. (Rubin was featured in a long must-read article offering background for the #MeToo movement. Rubin protested that the allegations are being spread by his ex-wife, which may be true, but the behavior reported in the story about him and other Google executives is nevertheless  concerning.)

The New York Times, “How Google Protected Andy Rubin, the ‘Father of Android,’” Oct. 25, 2018

“Yeah, I’m a Democrat, but I won’t bite ya!” said Georgia Secretary of State candidate John Barrow in a television ad. (This is a puzzling ad featuring another candidate to watch on November 6. As a Democrat running on a traditionally more Republican platform—lower taxes, limited government—we understand Barrow’s goal but disagree with the communication approach. Predictably, the quote with the BIMBO comment “I won’t bite ya!” emphasized the wrong sentiment. Compounding the language problem, the ad’s title is “Bite Ya.”)

Allon Georgia, “GA SOS Candidate John Barrow Releases Television Ad ‘Bite Ya,’” Oct. 21, 2018

“…my family is not the product of ignorance,” snapped Catherine Ruth Pakaluk responding to French President Emmanuel Macron’s comment, “I always say: ‘Present me the woman who decided, being perfectly educated, to have seven, eight, or nine children.’” (Made in attempt to support international efforts to provide family planning services, Macron’s comment instead offended a number of women with large families. Pakaluk, with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a doctorate from Harvard University, tweeted a picture of herself with her family along with the hashtag “#postcardsforMacron” and enlisted others to do the same. Of course, “I chose my family” would have more effectively changed the message than her “product of ignorance” line, which, unsurprisingly, made the headline.)

The Daily Signal, “‘My Family Is Not the Product of Ignorance’: Harvard Grad and Mom of 8 Takes on French President,” Oct. 17, 2018

“That’s hardly something I would describe as a mob,” said Lawrence Jacobs, director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota, rationalizing the behavior of “mobs” of people recorded doing such things as chasing after senators and pounding on the doors of the Supreme Court following the appointment of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. (Despite Jacobs’ attempt to call this “noisy democracy,” of course it’s mob behavior. The report also included comments from former Attorney General Eric Holder, “When they go low, we kick them,” which he tried to amend: “When I say we, you know, ‘we kick ‘em,’ I don’t mean we do anything inappropriate. We don’t do anything illegal.” We are tired of the language on both sides that encourages hyperventilating. For more, read Merrie’s piece on the subject published in The Hill.)

NPR, “Republicans Seize on ‘Angry Mob’ Mantra To Keep Their Midterm Base Fired Up,” Oct. 10, 2018

“50,000 jobs does not scare us,” said senior vice president of Economic Development for the Dallas Regional Chamber Mike Rosa. (It’s certainly Rosa’s sentiment as he promoted North Texas as the ideal home for Amazon’s HQ2. From the rest of his comments, it’s clear he was trying to say that North Texas can easily supply Bezos with 50,000 highly-educated workers. He added, “This region adds 100,000 jobs a year over the last several years.”)

Dallas Business Journal, “Dallas official to Amazon: ‘50,000 jobs does not scare us,’” Sept. 25, 2018

“Don’t hang up, this is not a sales call,” was the first line of a robo call shared with us by a reader who wrote, “Not sure if robo calls are eligible.” They sure are!

“The idea that anyone is attempting to form a Nazi army in America is ridiculous,” wrote a German consul in 1937. This historical BIMBO was shared with us by a regular contributor who encountered the comment when reading Bradley W. Hart’s book titled “Hitler's American Friends: The Third Reich's Supporters in the United States.” Apparently, Americans were indeed trying to organize Nazi sympathizers here in the U.S. The Chicago Daily Times broke the story and caused such a furor (as opposed to furer) that it triggered the denial above.


“Conventional wisdom is it’s weird, wacky, sick, perverted, grotesque, immoral,” wrote history professor at San Jose State University Glen Gendzel describing how people perceive California. (With friends like this, who needs enemies? He also wrote, “California is America’s crystal ball, where a nation looks to see its future and doesn’t always like what it is.” We call this terminal honesty, and it would be petty for us in Texas to point out that one of every four jobs leaving California–and there are a lot–is coming to Texas. Welcome!)

USA Today, “Why California is home to straw bans and mandated meatless Mondays — and Iowa isn't,” Oct. 18, 2018

“The October 3rd episode of ‘South Park’ titled ‘A Boy and a Priest,’ portrayed molesting priests as pedophiles. This is factually inaccurate: almost all the molesters—8 in 10—have been homosexuals. Therefore, the cartoon-victim characters should have been depicted as adolescents, not kids,” wrote Catholic League President Bill Donohue in a statement. (This is so bad; it’s hard to know where to start. First, by issuing the critical statement, the Catholic League simply called attention to the issue. Second, in attempt to differentiate between pedophiles and gay people, the League managed to offend—and confuse—a large portion of the population. Finally, aren’t “adolescents,” at least in these situations, really “kids”? Misstep all the way. Advice on what should have been said? Nothing.)

IndieWire, “‘South Park’ Airs Child Abuse Episode, Catholic League President Reacts by Slamming Trey Parker and Matt Stone,” Oct. 4, 2018

“Honestly, it’s not for everyone,” is Nebraska’s new tourism slogan, replacing “Nebraska Nice.” (OK. Maybe “nice” wasn’t exactly stimulating, and the new campaign certainly has a sense of humor, showing pictures of activities like rafting in a livestock tank with the headline, “Lucky for you, there’s nothing to do here.” However, it’s telling that a Colorado-based advertising agency was hired for the job. Apparently the state really isn’t for everyone. But does it make you want to spend an extra day in Nebraska next time you’re there on business?)

Omaha World-Herald, “Nebraska’s new tourism pitch: ‘Honestly, it’s not for everyone,’” Oct. 18, 2018


A fire investigator for the Bureau of Land Management in Nevada made a statistic verbally visual and impactful. The issue is that recreational shooters start fires by firing away into dry fall grasses, yet they think the chance of igniting a fire is minimal. Placing statistics in context, BLM Nevada Fire Investigator Ryan Elliott “likes to say that if shooters think there’s a one in a million chance they’ll start a fire, then it would take less than a month to do just that on the 12 million-acre district he patrols.” Excellent job, Mr. Elliott! His description really clarified the problem—and painted a picture.

USA Today, “Gun rights under siege? Recreational shooting on public lands in West has officials struggling to balance sport vs. safety,” Oct. 24, 2018

One of the most important battles of the decade will be fought with statistics. The outcome of the battle will depend on which statistic captures the public’s attention and resonates. As regulators debate whether large companies like Amazon should be regulated by antimonopoly laws, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is mounting a spirited campaign to argue that Amazon receives only about five percent of Americans’ retail spending, a figure that excludes categories like cars, car parts and visits to restaurants and bars. That’s accurate. By contrast, those in favor of regulating Amazon argue that Amazon’s share of Americans’ online spending is 49 percent, up from 43.5 percent in 2017. The debate, and the use of statistics to bolster a narrative, is worth watching.

Bloomberg Businessweek, “Amazon Captures 5 Percent of American Retail Spending. Is That a Lot?,” Aug. 8, 2018


“Were we in on it? Absolutely not. Do you really think Banksy, who spent his youth stenciling walls in Bristol and dodging the local authorities, would want to collaborate with the art establishment? Come on.” This quote references a Sotheby’s auction that included a piece of art from infamously anonymous street-artist Banksy. After Banksy’s painting, “Girl With Balloon,” sold for $1.4 million, a device triggered and the painting was lowered through a shredder in full view of the audience around the world. Banksy played a trick and the statement above was in response to the suspicion that Sotheby’s was in on the ploy for publicity purposes. After all, even cursory inspection revealed that the painting was housed in a box a few inches thick. Sotheby’s expert Alex Branczik, speaking for the venerable auction company, had the perfect response, even managing to position the auction house as “the art establishment.”

The Wall Street Journal, “Banksy Buyer Plans to Keep Shredded Painting,” Oct. 11, 2018


In line with Southwest Airlines’ company values—built on a “fun-luving attitude”—is another example courtesy of the University of Nebraska women’s volleyball, a team with more wins than any other in its NCAA division and five national championships. Its co-captain Mikaela Foecke is one of the moving spirits keeping practice organized and fun. They don’t just workout. Rather, they play Ultimate Frisbee, flag football, rabbit and hound, which is sort of like follow the leader, and Mikaela can tell you what muscle group each of their games develops. They have lots of off-season activities keeping them together and engaged, and there is growing documentation that this is a sound strategy. Director of the University of Kansas Sport and Exercise Psychology Lab Mary Fry said, “Making physical activity fun is key to sustaining workout motivation over time.” Of course, founder and legendary CEO of Southwest Airlines Herb Kelleher preached this concept decades ago. Mikaela, shall we send your resume on to Southwest? Now the question becomes, how do we spread the word to other companies?

The Wall Street Journal, “The Team That Digs Deeper to Have Fun,” Oct. 8, 2018


“You know what, a bad day in a store is better than a good day in the office,” said new Lowe’s CEO, Marvin Ellison. The new CEO has his work cut out for him, but seems to have made a good start. He’s barely been in his office, touring stores and talking to employees. He has also kept up a regular stream of tweets and Facebook posts. Images show him in the store, listening, with employees crowding around him. Nevertheless, we have to note Ellison’s quote that made the headline: “Home Depot’s best practices and Home Depot’s playbook is really the retail playbook.” Though his former employer, it was unwise to spend valuable interview time discussing Lowe’s competitor. Next time, he should stick to his own headlines.

Atlanta Business Chronicle, “New Lowe’s CEO: ‘Home Depot’s playbook is really the retail playbook’ (Photos),” Oct. 11, 2018


The Allstate Foundation has the “Purple Purse Campaign,” an initiative that “contrasts the visible signs of physical abuse with the hidden ones of financial abuse,” particularly of women. Its impressive spokesperson is superstar Serena Williams and the effort scored a major profile in USA Today and received coverage from other media outlets, the kind of press that advertising can’t buy.

USA Today, “Serena Williams calls financial abuse a form of domestic violence in a new video,” Oct. 3, 2018


How information and stories move from person to person is a key part of our consulting practice. Check out the story that examined the role WhatsApp played in a well-publicized crisis where three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists and later found murdered. A researcher meticulously tracked how information and misinformation was spread during the crisis. He found that rumors transmitted via WhatsApp could be attributed to “journalists and other civilians who had been briefed on the operation, and who had used WhatsApp to leak details to their families or colleagues in small groups they assumed were private.” Each shared details after the kidnapping via WhatsApp to just one family member or another small group. Information and falsehoods quickly spread, sowing confusion and anger. Interestingly, the researcher highlighted that the story isn’t one of “malicious and indiscriminate rumor-mongering”; rather, it is “a story of a few people who trusted other people, who in turn trusted others, each passing along what he or she considered important and necessary information to friends and colleagues.”

The New York Times, “The Problem With Fixing WhatsApp? Human Nature Might Get in the Way,” Oct. 24, 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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