Bimbo Banter


BIMBO Nominees for July 2020


  • Bimbo
  • June 30, 2020
  • by Spaeth Communications

Bimbo blog image a

We feature BIMBO comments this month from the White House press secretary, China and Iran. Examples of the power of communication and Wrong Thing to Say come from companies in the payday lending industry and CrossFit. You’ll also read several examples of what we call the “law of exceptions” (live cockroaches, anyone?) and comments exhibiting the Seattle mayor’s wishful thinking.

THE WINNING BIMBO

“I don’t feel guilty about that,” said Missouri Gov. Mike Parson responding to a question about a record number of positive COVID-19 cases. (This is a classic example with a lesson. Parson was asked by a reporter “if he felt any personal responsibility,” and he fell into the trap of responding to the tenor and topic of the question. As with so many other examples, the rest of Parson’s comments were right on target: “Social distancing is still critically important to protect ourselves and others. If you can’t social distance, wear a mask or face covering and take additional precautions. Be proactive, wash your hands and use common sense.” However, Parson elaborated that he doesn’t feel guilty over car accidents and that people “die every day.” To compound the error, he got into a fight with the reporter and asked if she felt responsible for her reporting. Wrong strategy. He should have acknowledged the initial question with a phrase like “on the contrary” and then gone back to reiterating the importance of reopening the economy while taking proper precautions. Notice the “guilty” line made the headline.)

KOMU 8, “Gov. Parson: ‘I don’t feel guilty’ about record increases in positive COVID-19 cases,” June 23, 2020

THE RUNNERS-UP

“(We) did not want to be drawn into a political controversy,” said AMC CEO Adam Aron defending the movie theater chain’s initial announcement that it would not require guests to wear facemasks. Too late! AMC was drawn into—you guessed it—a political controversy immediately and reversed course. (As crises go, this was very mild. AMC reacted swiftly and was generally transparent. Aron stated the company thought it would be “counterproductive if we forced mask wearing on those people who believe strongly it is not necessary.” Other theater chains didn’t stay out of the fray. Alamo Drafthouse Cinema included a BIMBO comment in its announcement saying it will require guests to wear face masks when it reopens. In a tweet, the company said, “This is not political.”)

The Verge, “AMC Theaters changes course and will require customers to wear face masks,” June 19, 2020

"The colonoscopy of the vetting is now occurring," said a Democratic official involved in the selection process of a vice presidential running mate for Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden. (What a word choice! Did the official mean to connote painful? A better word choice would have been something like detailed.)

CNN, “Nation's reckoning on race looms large over final month of Biden's running mate search,” June 26, 2020

“We have not delayed in any way,” said the Chinese minister heading the National Health Commission in response to accusations that China covered up details of the coronavirus epidemic by withholding relevant information from the world. (The minister’s comment came after China released a long, self-serving and highly selective report that detailed the country’s approach to combating the coronavirus outbreak. The report made no mention of the country’s stonewalling, intimidation, refusal to cooperate and early decision to eliminate the wet wild animal market before authorities could investigate it. The Chinese handling of the pandemic and its attempt to capitalize on other nations’ disarray should be required study for Americans.)

The New York Times, “China Hails Its Virus Triumphs, and Glosses Over Its Mistakes,” June 7, 2020

“We’ve nothing to hide,” tweeted Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, in response to a recent accusation that Iran is hiding suspected nuclear activity and obstructing investigations. (The accusation was included in a resolution passed by the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency. This marked the first time that big European powers like Britain, France and Germany supported the Trump Administration’s stance on the issue after splitting with President Trump in 2015 when his administration abandoned the Iran nuclear agreement. To Iran’s claim, Brian Hook, the State Department’s special envoy for Iran policy retorted, “If only that were true.”)

The New York Times, “Iran Is Accused of Hiding Suspected Nuclear Activity,” June 19, 2020

“It’s not a baseless conspiracy,” said White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany trying to defend President Trump’s suggestion, made in a tweet, that the 75-year-old protestor pushed to the ground by Buffalo police could be “an ANTIFA provocateur.” (As the former director of media for the White House, Merrie highly encourages McEnany to stop repeating and denying negative accusations. Notice in this situation, as frequently happens, the salacious quote migrated into the headline.)

Deadline, “White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany Defends Donald Trump’s Tweet Targeting 75-Year-Old Protestor: ‘It’s Not A Baseless Conspiracy,’” June 10, 2020

EXAMPLES OF THE POWER OF COMMUNICATION

Compacom, a California company that earns money from referrals to lenders, came under fire for advertising “find money if the coronavirus left you unemployed” and then providing laid-off workers with links to payday lenders. (In a written statement, Compacom’s advertisements included BIMBO comment wording such as it’s “not trying to take advantage of desperate borrowers.” Like so many companies that repeat and deny a negative accusation, the second part of its statement included its real message, “on the contrary we do our best to help applicants to find better lenders and get better deals.” Another comment found in this story illustrated the law of exceptions and why it’s a mistake to fall into this trap. A spokeswoman for Credit Sesame said that high-cost loans “make up a very small fraction of our business,” which only confirmed these loans are part of the company’s business model. We also recommend giving a tip of the hat to Elevate Credit, Inc. In response to one woman’s critique that she felt “taken advantage of” by lender Rise Credit, owned by Elevate Credit Inc., the company noted, “we disclose on our website that Rise is an expensive form of credit.”)

Wall Street Journal, “How Payday Lenders Target Consumers Hurt by Coronavirus,” June 3, 2020

Anyone looking for an example of how communication can destroy a business can look at the well-publicized charges hurled back and forth between now-former CrossFit CEO Greg Glassman and his affiliates who purchase the CrossFit name. Co-owner Alyssa Royse of Seattle-based Rocket Community Fitness, formerly Rocket CrossFit, pressed CrossFit in a letter to offer a public statement of support of protestors of George Floyd’s murder. Her letter was a passionate cry for compassion and help. Glassman responded with an email that you have to read to believe. In summary, he insulted and ridiculed her, used profanity to describe her and concluded his message by calling her “evil.” This was after a video call with a number of CrossFit gym affiliate owners where he made a point of saying he doesn’t mourn the death of George Floyd. There are too many quotes to include, but the story is worth looking at as an example. Glassman had to resign as CEO and ended up selling the company as affiliates dropped the name and association after the company’s lack of action in response to requests for it to speak up in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The Seattle Times, “How an email from a Seattle-area gym ultimately led to CrossFit CEO Greg Glassman’s resignation for racist comments,” June 21, 2020

THE LAW OF EXCEPTIONS

Want to intimidate a critic? Nothing like sending a box of live cockroaches. What about a mask of a bloody pig’s head? Ask David and Ina Steiner how this feels. The Steiners publish an e-commerce blog that frequently criticizes eBay and Amazon. After receiving a series of threatening emails, tweets and the aforementioned surprises on their doorstep, the Steiners engaged law enforcement. Authorities discovered that eBay leaders and staff were conducting a corporate harassment campaign. Jordan Sweetnam, head of eBay’s marketplace business in the U.S., Canada and Latin America, tried to defend the company in a blog post by saying the acts “were isolated incidents and not a systemic issue.” This claim never works because the individual incident or anecdote becomes the proxy for the company’s overall behavior.

Wall Street Journal, “‘Crush This Lady.’ Inside eBay’s Bizarre Campaign Against a Blog Critic.,” June 24, 2020

WISHFUL THINKING

“Seattle is fine,” tweeted Mayor Jenny Durkan reacting to negative reporting about the behavior in the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ), now referred to as the Capitol Hill Organized Protest zone, or CHOP. (Contrary to the hoped for “Summer of Love,” CHAZ/CHOP is a chaotic, violent, dangerous zone with portable toilets supplied by the city (for free) but no police or fire protection. Closer to a correct quote is Durkan’s comment that CHAZ “is not a lawless wasteland of anarchist insurrection.”)

Wall Street Journal, “Seattle’s Chaotic ‘Autonomous Zone,’” June 17, 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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