Bimbo Banter

BIMBO Nominees for July 2011

  • Bimbo
  • July 1, 2011
  • by Spaeth Communications

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This month’s BIMBOs come from Charlie Rangel, Anthony Weiner (naturally), David Axelrod, FIFA’s president, HSBC, Tracy Morgan, Alec Baldwin and Delta. Two examples of how we hear statistics, and several “wrong thing to say…or do” from LeBron James, the Miami Herald, a New Jersey union official, a Southwest pilot (followed by a good apology), MSNBC political correspondent Mark Halperin (defended by Judith Miller and Doug Schoen), Delta again and Skype. “60 Minutes” provides an Erwin Knoll example. In Twitter examples, Greenpeace pesters Mattel and McDonalds finds hoaxes on the internet are like vampires (they never die). HP gets kudos for partnering with PING to alleviate Malaria. Mark Cuban’s lawyer files a very funny legal motion complete with a picture (they really are worth a thousand words). The Met has a good example of a newsletter about their maps exhibit, and there’s a good article about employees as ambassadors.

(The rest of us at Spaeth would like you to know that Merrie was given the “Inspiring Woman” of the year award from the Dallas chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners.)


“He wasn’t going out with prostitutes, he wasn’t going out with little boys, he wasn’t going into men’s rooms with broad stances,” said Congressman Charles Rangel (D-NY) defending beleaguered Congressman Anthony Weiner. (The entire episode is clearly the BIMBO winner for the month, from the initial Twitter pictures, to the denial of involvement, the claim that his account had been hacked, the too-frequent media interviews, the perplexing comments about not being able to confirm the pictures were his, the bizarre press conference of confession, the defiant BIMBO comment about “I am not resigning,” and so on. Former Mayor Ed Koch succinctly said, “I think he’s in trouble.”  When your only defender is Charlie Rangel and the quote above is all he can come up with, we agree.)

New York Post, “Weiner finds a friend in Charlie Rangel,” June 10, 2011


“The people who were participating in the campaign in 2008 were not involved in some cult of personality, it wasn’t just about Barack Obama,” said former White House adviser David Axelrod talking about the president’s dropping poll numbers in an interview with CNN reporter Candy Crowley. Crowley told Axelrod that a former supporter told her it’s not as cool to be an Obama supporter now. (No comment on this. We’ll let it speak for itself.)

State of the Union with Candy Crowley, June 19, 2011

“FIFA is not in crisis,” said the organization’s president, Sepp Blatter, who is running for a fourth term unopposed after his opponent withdrew after being accused of buying votes. Blatter denied being in a “crisis” four times and tried to say they were just experiencing "difficulties" (He did something most organizational leaders would love to do but wouldn’t dare. When reporters pressed him about FIFA’s image problems, he said “I am the president of FIFA, you cannot question me.”  Gratifying as it must have been to say that to reporters, they’ll get even. Remember the old comment “never argue with a man who buys ink by the barrel?” It’s even truer today. In this age of social media and a 24-hour news cycle, reporters no longer have time or space constraints.)

The New York Times, “Accusations Are Replaced by Anger at FIFA,” May 31, 2011

“HSBC does not condone tax evasion,” said a company spokeswoman in response to the IRS’ expansion of an investigation of banks that helped Americans evade taxes by hiding money in Swiss accounts. (This is an example of what we call inverted speech. The spokesperson continued, “It fully supports U.S. efforts to promote appropriate payment of taxes.”  They should have left it at that.)

Bloomberg Businessweek, “Grilling Taxpayers on Offshore Accounts,” June 6-12, 2011

“I’m not a hateful person,” said comedian Tracy Morgan after an attendee at a performance posted on Facebook comments Morgan made about homosexuality. (Morgan said that homosexuality was “something kids learn from the media,” and that if his son was gay, he would “pull out a knife and stab him.”  This was clearly a stupid thing to say, but just as interesting was the way his comments were spread.)

The Herald Tribune “Tracy Morgan Apologizes for Anti-Gay Remarks,” June 10, 2011

“I did not write that Romney is a Ken doll,” wrote Alec Baldwin in a column, which was an extension of a tweet that was apparently misconstrued. (We agree with Mr. Baldwin’s comment: “I sense some (myself included) are not quite prepared for the rapid fire, press conference-like exchange of opinion and lame repartee that can, by turns, overwhelm that particular site. Perhaps Twitter is best for promotional purposes.”)

The Huffington Post, “One More Thing About Mitt Romney,” June 4, 2011

“Delta does not discriminate,” wrote the airline in a statement trying to squelch a rumor that Delta, by joining an alliance with Saudi Arabian airlines, would follow Saudi rules that prohibits bibles and imposes other limitations. (This is another rumor that ran wild in the blogosphere.  A Delta spokesperson posted a four-paragraph explanation on the company’s blog. It’s a good communiqué and illustrates how a blog can take a much more conversational tone than the traditional corporate statement.)

USA Today, “Airline to Jewish rumor: ‘Delta does not discriminate,’” June 24, 2011

“It was an isolated incident,” said Mitch Mustain, a star high school football player who ran into problems in college, some he was not responsible for. Mustain didn’t get an invitation to the NFL scouting conference because he was arrested in early February. He ended up not being charged, but it didn’t help his image. (In a classic BIMBO, Mustain told Sports Xchange, “I’m not a problem child.”  The problem with saying something is “isolated” is it confirms it happened. Mustain should have used the opportunity to say he welcomed the opportunity to show what he’s capable of and is committed to being a hardworking teammate.), “What happened to Mitch Mustain?” June 7, 2011


A review of studies published by the Cochrane Library is a must-read for people interested in communication. The review found that the way data is presented can have a significant influence on health care decisions. For example, patients were impressed to learn that a medicine would reduce the risk of getting a disease by 50 percent, but were less impressed with the same statistic reported as reducing risk from two percent to one percent. Dr. Elie Akl, the lead researcher, advises doctors to present information in several ways. She also had a warning for the media that we hope they hear loud and clear: “Journalists have to be careful” about their reporting. (Professor Edward Tufte would be proud. The father of information design could have told doctors how data is conveyed influences what the listener and viewer, in this case their patient, hears and believes.)

The New York Times, “Translation Matters in Choices on Data,” May 3, 2011


“They have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today. They have the same personal problems they had today,” said LeBron James in a press conference following the Miami Heat’s loss to the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA championship. (James was asked if he was bothered that some people were happy to see the Heat lose. While teammate Dwyane Wade did a good job praising the Mavericks win, LeBron James’ comments appeared to belittle the public. He came across as shallow and selfish.)

The New York Times, “Afterward, a Blend of Defiance, Distain and Diplomacy,” June 14, 2011

"Congratulations Miami!” read the near-full-page ad in the Miami Herald the day after the Heat lost the NBA championship to the Mavericks. To make it worse, the ad ran on the same page as a story about the game.

Miami New Times, “Miami Herald Runs Macy’s Ad Congratulating Heat on Winning NBA title,” June 13, 2011

“The governor has made us out to be the new Wall Street fat cats,” said Newark Fire Department Director Fateen Ziyad, explaining Gov. Chris Christie’s criticisms of the pay packages New Jersey state and municipal workers are receiving. (And why not? The article noted workers could collect on hundreds of unused sick and vacation days, picking up hundreds of thousands of dollars. Demonstrating the power of words, Gov. Chris Christie dubbed the payments “boat checks” because the payments were frequently enough to purchase one.)

Bloomberg Businessweek, “One Heck of a Going-Away Gift,” June 20, 2011

“It was a continuous stream of gays and grannies…a disaster for six months, now I’m back in Houston which is easily one of the ugliest bases,” complained a Southwest pilot, adding a few choice comments about his own sex life. Unfortunately, just like with reporters, his microphone was on and broadcasted to everyone monitoring that air traffic. It took several tries before an air traffic controller could convey the problem and get him to shut up. (While this is an example of the “wrong thing to say,” it’s also a good example. The pilot wrote to his colleagues later, and we are impressed with his apology. He wrote, “I deeply regret the derogatory remarks I made and the hurt I have caused— I take full responsibility for those comments. It was truly insensitive of me, and I would like all of you to know that from now on, I will show nothing but the utmost respect during my interactions with all employees.”)

The Dallas Morning News, “Southwest Airlines pilot suspended for comments over open mike,” June 22, 2011

The Dallas Morning News, “Southwest pilot sends apology to colleagues,” June 30, 2011

Calling President Obama a “d*ck” on the air was enough to get MSNBC political correspondent and Time magazine editor Mark Halperin suspended from MSNBC. We recommend a column by Judith Miller and Doug Schoen defending Halperin. The column points out that he signaled to co-host Joe Scarborough he was about to do something out-of-line and he told his colleagues they should put their finger on the seven second delay button.

The Sacramento Bee, “MSNBC suspends analyst for remark on Obama,” June 30, 2011

Pundicity, “Mark Halperin Got a Bum Rap,” July 1, 2011

“You’ve got to be in it to win it,” said Skype spokesman Brian O’Shaughnessy dismissing the complaints by Skype workers who either left the company or were let go, and found that their “vested” stock options had been cancelled by private-equity firm Silver Lake Partners after it bought Skype from eBay in 2009. (The 11-page stock option agreement mentioned the new rules in a single sentence at the end and referred the signer to another document. This is both the wrong thing to say and the wrong thing to do, and will reverberate through Silicon Valley. Who would want to work for such miserable people? Graef Crystal, the country’s foremost compensation expert said it best, “I’ve never heard of a company taking away vested options. It invalidates the meaning of the word ‘vested.’”)

Bloomberg, “Former Skype Employees Find Devil in Options Contract Details,” June 6, 2011


“In the cold light of morning, your story was either extraordinarily shoddy, to the point of being reckless and unprofessional, or a vicious hit–and-run-job. In either case, a categorical on-air apology is required,” wrote Elliot Peters, Lance Armstrong’s attorney, to “60 Minutes.” The show aired a piece featuring a former teammate who claims that Armstrong used a blood-boosting substance and that the international governing body covered up a positive test at an event in Switzerland. Following the show, the head of the Swiss lab in question denied the allegation and other “facts” about a supposed meeting. (Peters noted in his letter that they had alerted “60 Minutes” that both allegations were false and provided evidence to refute the claims, but the show went ahead anyway. This is called “why let the facts get in the way of a good story,” and the uncomfortable fact is that reporters and journalists do this all the time. Erwin Knoll wrote, “Everything you read in newspapers is absolutely true, except for that rare story of which you happen to have first-hand knowledge.” People would be shocked to learn how much in the media is absolutely wrong. At least the Associated Press covered Mr. Peters’ letter.)

Associated Press, “Armstrong’s lawyers want apology from ‘60 Minutes,’” June 1, 2011


The Mattel Twitter feed @BarbieStyle went silent after Greenpeace continued its campaign against the toy company by producing a YouTube video of Ken quarreling with Barbie over rain forest destruction, which Mattel is supposedly fostering by using products from Indonesian rain forests. Greenpeace also set up the twitter account @ken_talks, which spoofs the doll couple. They tweeted inane comments like, “Beach. Spa. Poolside cocktails. Just another Malibu weekend coming my way boys and dolls.”  Another user titled @barbie, not controlled by Mattel or Greenpeace, featured posts like “Yes, I participated in #Deforestation… how else am I supposed to heat the ‘Dream House?’”  (This is an illustrative example of a clever use of social media. Mattel initially issued a typical corporate statement, “Playing responsibly has long been an important part of Mattel’s business practices,” and then a few days later, they added a post to the corporate Facebook page noting they had asked their packaging suppliers to cease sourcing packaging material from the Singapore-based company Greenpeace complained about. That, naturally, wasn’t enough to satisfy Greenpeace.)

Los Angeles Times, “Greenpeace versus Mattel: A Social Media battle over rain forest,” June 8, 2011

“That pic is a senseless & ignorant hoax McD’s values ALL our customers. Diversity runs deep in our culture on both sides of the counter,” tweeted McDonald’s after a fake photograph was widely circulated. The picture shows what looks like an official notice on the window of a golden arches restaurant stating that African American customers would be charged $1.50 extra “as an insurance measure due in part to a recent string of robberies.”  McDonald’s followed the initial tweet with another, “That #SeriouslyMcDonalds picture is a hoax.”  (Enough gullible people swallowed the hoax without realizing the telephone number on the bottom of the “poster” was a KFC number. The initial rumor and picture is over a year old and a reminder that things never truly go away on the Internet and oftentimes, come back to life. These days, a company is never done with a problem. We were surprised that more customers and employees didn’t stick up for McDonald’s.), “Racial hoax causes PR headache for McDonald’s,” June 13, 2011, “McDonald’s Racist Sign Hoax Reminds us that the Internet Never Forgets,”

June 13, 2011

“Friends don’t let Jackasses drink and drive,” tweeted film critic Roger Ebert after “Jackass” star Ryan Dunn and a friend were killed in a car crash shortly after they tweeted pictures of themselves drinking. Dunn’s co-star, Bam Margera angrily tweeted back, using the ‘f’ word, to tell Ebert to shut up. (Ebert wrote on his blog that he may have tweeted too quickly, but isn’t that the definition of Twitter? Ebert continued, “Nobody has any business driving on a public highway at 110mph, as some estimated. Two people were killed. What if the car had crashed into another car?”)  

The Guardian, “Close up: Robert Ebert’s Dunn moanin’,” June 23, 2011


Tom Melsheimer, Mark Cuban’s lawyer, filed a marvelous brief in a long-running lawsuit with Ross Perot, Jr. Perot filed suit charging Cuban had made “a litany of questionable, business, financial and personnel decisions” causing Hillwood, Perot’s company that owns five percent of the Mavericks, to lose value. The suit also charged that the Mavericks were “insolvent and/or in imminent danger of insolvency.” Melsheimer included in the motion a photo of Mavericks players celebrating their victory over the Miami Heat. The short brief noted, “Under Hillwood’s ownership, the team was deemed the ‘worst franchise’ in all of professional sports. Under Cuban’s stewardship the Mavericks have become one of the league’s most successful teams and are now NBA champions. Accordingly, there can be no genuine question that Hillwood’s claims of mismanagement lack merit and Hillwood’s claims should be disposed of on summary judgment.”  The best line comes at the end asking the Court to grant summary judgment, and to award “the World Champion Dallas Mavericks and RMM such further relief to which they are entitled, (although they are quite content at the moment.”)

Dallas Observer, “Did Mark Cuban’s Attorney Just File Greatest Legal Scoreboard Ever in Ross Perot Jr. Case?” June 22, 2011


Kudos to HP for recently partnering with PING (Positive Innovation for the Next Generation). Many have recognized that collecting data about malaria outbreaks is slow and unreliable, so HP and PING have equipped health care workers in Botswana with HP Palm Pre 2 cell phones with a special app designed to collect malaria data. Workers can tag data with pictures, video and audio. If the uploaded data signals an outbreak, Ministry of Health officials in the area are alerted through a text message. HP says the next step is to complete a year of operations and then expand with apps for devastating diseases like tuberculosis and Ebola. (We hope Alexander McCall Smith and the series, “The Number One Ladies Detective Agency,” take note.), “HP Battles Malaria In Real Time With Cell Technology,” June 6, 2011

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s e-newsletter this month is a nice example of combing video and story. Melanie Holcomb, associate curator of medieval art, does a nice Direct- POV  (point of view) straight to camera video.  The discussion is about maps, which she illustrates with great examples. This is nicely done and a good example of the kind of communication organizations should and need to be using today. See the Direct-POV here.

An article by James Walsh in May’s Workforce Management explains the importance of engaging employees as ambassadors. Walsh notes that “motivating workers to become brand ambassadors not only helps enhance a company’s reputation but also strengthens the bond between employee and employee.” One of PepsiCo’s, the main company profiled, initiatives are e-postcards workers can send to friends and family and post on their own social media channels. PepsiCo also encourages employees to produce and post one minute videos that showcase what the company calls their four pillars: “performance, human sustainability, environmental sustainability and talent sustainability.”

Workforce Management, “Companies Look to Capitalize on Viral Voices,” May 2011

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