Bimbo Banter


BIMBO Nominees for April 2020


  • Bimbo
  • March 31, 2020
  • by Spaeth Communications

Bimbo blog image b

This month’s memo features a variety of BIMBO comments delivered by officials attempting to quell the fears of and instill confidence in the public, we also feature a classic BIMBO comment from a spokesperson for a Chicago-based rent-a-bank and a marvelous example of a misuse of statistics. In an attempt to lift your spirits, we’ve included a few positive examples of companies stepping up in the time of crisis.

THE WINNING BIMBO

“The sky did not fall when these dispensaries opened their doors to medical patients five years ago. It didn’t fall two months ago when they began serving adult-use customers and it won’t fall if a responsible dispensary opens at 12 W. Maple later this year,” said Jeremy Unruh, co-founder and director of regulatory and public affairs at marijuana dispensary company PharmaCann. The company is one of two trying to open dispensaries within 1,500 feet of each other in a Chicago neighborhood. (Unruh should have stressed that retail stores only open in areas where customers support them. Still, by saying, “the sky did not fall,” he was very dismissive of the locals. The second company proposing a dispensary a few blocks away, Cresco Labs, didn’t communicate any better. The company held a meeting at a local Hilton where its spokesman agreed citizens “are scared” of a dispensary, a comment which was “met with a chorus of ‘boos.’”)

Book Club Chicago, “Gold Coast Aldermen Want To Block 2 Weed Dispensaries From Opening In The Neighborhood,” March 6, 2020

THE RUNNERS-UP

“The purpose of this declaration is not to scare or terrify anybody,” said Charleston, West Virginia City Manager Jonathan Storage when explaining a proclamation he and Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin issued that would “allow the city to be immediate in its response to this global pandemic.” (Goodwin’s comments were much better. She said, “We’re not overreacting, we are over-preparing.” Storage’s claim was a classic BIMBO comment. He should have repeated Goodwin’s comment about being prepared. In typical BIMBO fashion, Storage’s other comments were much better. He said, “It’s to be put [sic] people on awareness and be cognizant of what is going on around the country and surrounding.”)

MetroNews, “City of Charleston declares state of emergency in response to COVID-19,” March 15, 2020

“[The company] is not intentionally evading or breaking state law,” said a spokesman for Chicago-based Opportunity Financial LLC, known as OppLoans, in response to charges that the company was still charging very high interest rates despite new regulations in California. OppLoan's bank-lending practices earned it the sobriquet rent-a-bank, a label describing companies that partner with financial institutions outside their home states, often in states without interest-rate caps, to continue offering high-interest-rate loans. In OppLoan’s case, the interest rate in question was 160 percent. (This is a classic BIMBO comment because OppLoan's spokesperson picked up and repeated the original charge of evading state law, first uttered by a California lawmaker. The reporter obviously relayed the charge to the spokesperson, who then repeated back and denied the negative accusation. Like much-maligned payday loans, these products serve a populace and a need. The OppLoan's spokesperson should have taken the opportunity to remind listeners of that. One of the banks involved, Capital Community Bank (CCBank), provided a mixed message by pointing out these are true “partnerships” in which the bank is actively involved. However, the bank’s CEO commented, “We don’t say, ‘Here you go, you can use our charter,’” therefore undercutting the “partnership” message instead of reinforcing it. A hat tip to Hugo Dooner, CEO of Wheels Financial Group LLC, who got the message right when he said the partnerships are “a common practice that helps provide credit to consumers who would otherwise be unable to access the credit markets in their state.”)

The Wall Street Journal, “‘Rent-a-Banks’ Defy States’ Growing Efforts to Curb High-Cost Lending,” March 11, 2020

“You know, we don’t want to alarm people, but given the spread we’ve seen, you know, anything’s possible,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. We love and respect Dr. Fauci, and he certainly has done yeoman service, but he does need a BIMBO lesson. (These types of BIMBO comments are particularly dangerous when speculating that draconian regulations could shut down large sections of the country, or even the entire country. We’re out of our core competency here, but Merrie remembers enough of her lessons on risk analysis from Columbia Business school to know that it’s important to look at the big picture. Shut down the country? Who delivers food? What about the businesses that can’t re-open? We need to consider not just the economic toll but also the hard-to-quantify cost of loss of hope, suicide and other very real costs. Please, Dr. Fauci, continue to stress the need to do the right thing. If you don’t want to “alarm people,” don’t speculate! Note the phrase made the headline.)

Fox News, “Fauci says ‘anything is possible’ when asked about widespread coronavirus quarantine,” March 8, 2020

“But we’re not closing our eyes to this,” said Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, regarding the committee’s investigation of the Ukrainian dealings of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son. (This is another case of a good quote with the wrong message. In this intensely political environment, Johnson should have said that the committee needed to investigate as part of its mission to ensure that actions by Biden and his son Hunter on Burisma Holdings’ board, where he earned a salary of more than $50,000 a month, were at least legal. Notice that Johnson’s quote made the headline.)

The Daily Signal, “‘We’re Not Closing Our Eyes’: Senate Panel Seeks Documents in Biden-Ukraine Investigation,” March 8, 2020

“[It’s] not that I’m not popular; Biden is running with his ties to Obama, said Sen. Bernie Sanders explaining his lack of presidential support with black voters. (Sanders got it partly right. With his supporters, he’s very popular, but the reason he’s losing the Democratic nomination to former Vice President Joe Biden isn’t because of Biden’s role in the Obama administration, as Sanders claimed. Sanders’ positions are so far left that even a majority of Democrats fear their implications.)

The Hill, “Sanders says Biden winning African American support by ‘running with his ties to Obama,’” March 4, 2020

“It’s not martial law,” said Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot defending the Illinois National Guard’s presence in Chicago. (Lightfoot delivered her classic BIMBO comment in response to rumors about National Guard troops supporting a nationwide quarantine. Similarly, Gen. Joseph Lengyel contributed to the confusion by tweeting, “I hear unfounded rumors about #NationalGuard troops supporting a nationwide quarantine. Let me be clear: There has been no such discussion.” If anyone knows him, pass along a link to the BIMBO Memo and a recommendation to stop repeating and denying negatives.)  

The New York Times, “Here’s What Calling in the National Guard Means,” March 21, 2020

STATISTICS

We often comment on how statistics lend themselves to misspeak, and a marvelous example of that came from MSNBC. Brian Williams and The New York Times Editorial Board Member Mara Gay were discussing former Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s expensive and failed presidential campaign. Williams read a tweet that claimed, Bloomberg spent $500 million on ads. The U.S. Population, 327 million. He could have given each American $1 million and have had lunch money left over.” In response, Williams said, “It’s an incredible way of putting it,” and Gay agreed. Even if neither Williams nor Gay could do the exact math—$500 million divided by 327,000,000 people is actually $1.53 per person—neither of them knew enough to realize the comparisons were apples to oranges. Worse, when the mistake was pointed out, instead of poking fun at themselves, they ignored it and then tried to blame it on the author of the tweet.

The Daily Wire, “WATCH: MSNBC’s Brian Williams, New York Times’ Mara Gay Make Embarrassing Math Error,” March 5, 2020

GOOD NEWS

During this uncertain time caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, there is so much negative news. Below are a few positive examples of companies stepping up in the time of crisis, which hopefully, will lift your spirits.

“Frisch’s Big Boy is here for you in these challenging times,” said Frisch’s Big Boy President & CEO Jason Vaughn when discussing Big Boy’s new items available for purchase online, through the restaurants’ drive-thru, carryout and delivery. Items include much-needed household staples like milk, produce, single-serve cereals and rolls of bathroom tissue.

FOX19 NOW, “More than a restaurant: Frisch’s Big Boy now selling milk, toilet paper and more,” March 19, 2020

After closing its doors to visitors, Shedd Aquarium in Chicago let its penguins explore the aquarium and broadcast the penguins’ “field trip” on its social channels for all to see! Can you wait to join them?

Bored Panda, “After Closing Down, This Aquarium Lets Its Penguins Go On A ‘Field Trip,’” March 17, 2020 

Texas Monthly wrote about H-E-B’s coronavirus-pandemic preparation. The grocer’s quotes in the article were great, but the real lesson is their strategy of cooperating with the media. A model effort!  (We love how beer distributors are delivering eggs! This is also a great example worth circulating about corporations pitching in. All companies should do this!)

Texas Monthly, “Inside the Story of How H-E-B Planned for the Pandemic,” March 26, 2020

People are adapting all over! Neiman Marcus’s alterations specialists were producing masks—what a great idea. There were no standout quotes included in this article, but this a great example of positive visibility.

Bizwomen, “Neiman Marcus alterations group shifts to sewing protective gear,” March 25 2020

This is an example of a small local company, The Leather Sofa Co., repurposing itself as mask producers. The article served as great visibility for the company and husband-and-wife co-founders Mitch and DeAnn Lurie had great quotes.

Dallas Business Journal, “Small DFW furniture maker produces masks to help shortage,” March 25, 2020

 

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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