Bimbo Banter

BIMBO Nominees for November 2016

  • Bimbo
  • November 2, 2016
  • by Spaeth Communications

Bimbo blog image e

You may have caught Merrie on Facebook Live at the Newseum last week. ICYMI, it’s a great introduction to this new technology and a reminder of the ways your audiences are now seeking to engage. We don’t have as many true BIMBOs this month, but a number of examples in the Wrong Thing to Say category—including our runner-up. We have more BIMBOs from Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, a zoological director, Brexit leader Nigel Farage and a patent troll. As you might expect, the campaign section is full yet again. At the end, an essay confirming some very real impacts of communication and a discussion about whether the ex-Verizon-now-Sprint actor can be a paid brand ambassador. We don’t think so. Check out our new “Links We Love” section at the end.


“Obamacare’s not imploding,” said economist Jonathan Gruber to CNN. Gruber is acknowledged as the architect of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. (Gruber also achieved fame in 2014 when he said that the Affordable Care Act was purposely misleading and depended on “the stupidity of the American voter.” It’s hard to suggest what Gruber could or should have said since the media is filled with news that premiums are increasing doubling and tripling and younger people are not signing up.  Gruber is nothing if not open. He told CNN’s Carol Costello that “We need a larger mandate penalty.” In other words, refuse to sign up at your peril. The penalties are about to increase as well.)

The Wall Street Journal, “A Mandate for a Mandate?,” Oct. 27, 2016


“I forgot that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington,” sneered Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Illinois) at his election opponent, Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois) who is an Iraqi veteran and double amputee.  (Duckworth had just finished an impassioned plea for the country not to engage in military adventures, where she stated “My family has served this nation in uniform going back to the Revolution.”  Her mother is a Thai immigrant and her late father a U.S. Marine. Kirk’s snarky remark drew justifiable criticism. It was unnecessary and stupid, becoming the news instead of the huge policy differences between them.)

Mediaite, “GOP Sen. Engages in Shocking, False Attack on Opponent’s Ancestry in Debate,” Oct.27, 2016


An example of a negative word making news comes from Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, who warned the U.S. not to treat him “like a lapdog.” He has aligned with China because “America has lost,” and added “I am also not a lapdog of any country.” (Déjà vu. We’ve noted Duterte’s loud mouth before. He also announced that God had spoken to him to tell him to cease using obscenities. Of course, Duterte should have instead asked the U.S. to treat him with respect. Notice the word “lapdog” became the headline.)

USA Today, “Philippine leader to U.S.: Don’t treat me like a lapdog,” Oct. 25, 2016

“I can certainly tell you that there were no broken locks, Kumbuka did not smash any windows, he was never ‘on the loose,’” said Professor David Field, the London Zoo’s zoological director regarding gorilla Kumbuka’s escape. The silverback gorilla made an “opportunistic” exit from his exhibit. (One of Kumbuka’s keepers stayed with him – that certainly took guts! And the wandering primate ended up guzzling fruit juice before being returned to his enclosure. While this is really a story about the heroism and dedicated behavior of the unnamed staff member, we note Professor Field also said that Kumbuka kept calm. See the headline for hints on what gorillas apparently drink for fun.)

The Guardian, “London Zoo gorilla drank five litres of blackcurrant juice after escaping enclosure,” Oct. 19, 2016

“We’re just waiting to speak to the Electoral Commission, but they’re not open yet as they’re lazy civil servants,” said Nigel Farage who is “probably” still the leader of the Ukip Party in the U.K. (Farage was speaking after his successor, Diane James, resigned just 18 days after assuming the post. “We’re all a bit surprised, but look, it’s a rotten job. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy,” he added. Wow! Talk about terminal honesty! The party is holding an emergency meeting to find a new leader, but it looks as if they need a new leadership platform.)

HuffPost UK, “Nigel Farage: I’m Probably Still Ukip Leader But I Need to Check,” Oct.5, 2016

“It is a stretch to say that I’m a troll,” said Martin Kelly Jones, co-founder of Shipping & Transit, a company that has made a career of suing companies that use tracking solutions. (Shipping &Transit has never made a product since its founding 30 years ago, but a court never ruled on the validity of its “patent.” Rather, it now targets small companies and demands a small enough amount of money that the company settles rather than fight. From a communication standpoint, what’s interesting about this case study is that the few companies who have gone public with Shipping & Transit’s extortionate demands have had the charges dismissed or settled without paying. So Jones is a troll after all.)

The Wall Street Journal, “America’s Biggest Filer of Patent Suits Wants You to Know It Invented Shipping Notification,” Oct. 27, 2016


“You are fascinated with sex, and you don’t care about public policy,” Former Speaker Newt Gingrich yelled at Fox News Anchor Megyn Kelly during an interview. He was set off by her comment, “if Trump is a sexual predator...” while discussing the allegations against Trump. (We were shocked that Gingrich lost his usual composure. The whole exchange, which went back-and-forth for some time, was a mistake because it focused on Trump’s personal behavior and repeated sensational words. The exchange crowded out the message of the policy differences between Republicans and Democrats. Of course, it became the headline.)

The Washington Post, “‘You are fascinated with sex’: That Megyn Kelly-Newt Gingrich showdown was one for the ages,” Oct. 26, 2016

“Oh, I’m sure she’s never been grabbed before,” said Trump sarcastically about an accusation from an adult film performer. (One more thoughtless comment that made news. Jessica Drake accused Trump of grabbing and kissing her without permission as well as offering her money to go to his hotel room. Trump later defended himself saying she only accused him of grabbing her arm. He also called Gloria Allred, Drake’s lawyer, “third rate.” She may be a partisan, but she’s certainly not third rate—and is one of our favorite teaching video examples! Once again, the crack became the headline. Trump should have just said, “They’re desperate to focus on anything but the policy differences.”)

CNN Politics, “Trump on porn actress who accused him of misconduct: ‘Oh, I’m sure she’s never been grabbed before,’” Oct. 25, 2016

“Zero chance I’ll quit,” said Trump responding to dismay and outrage from Republicans on the release of a 2005 video tape where he described how he made advances to women, including married women, and could do it because he’s “a star.”  (Trump also said, “I never, ever give up...Hillary Clinton is a horribly flawed candidate.” The “zero chance” comment crowded it out and made the headline.)

The Wall Street Journal, “Donald Trump Says Campaign Not in Crisis, and There Is ‘Zero Chance I’ll Quit,’” Oct. 8, 2016

“I am NOT pro-Trump,” said Mark Burnett, the creator of Trump’s hit TV series, “The Apprentice.” (Burnett is being pressured to release potentially damning tapes of Trump. He has refused but felt compelled to issue the statement quoted here. He has wisely declined to let journalists loose on the thousands of hours of Apprentice footage. In addition to the contractual restrictions, it’s a virtual certainty that some embarrassing moments will be there, but letting reporters rummage through unused footage would create a chilling effect for all production companies.)

The New York Times, “'Apprentice’ Producer Denounces Trump but Won’t Release Possibly Damning Tapes,” Oct. 13, 2016

“Not willing to concede,” said RNC chairman Reince Priebus about his candidate’s mindset following the disclosure of sensational video tapes and accusations from women that he had groped them. (Priebus was trying to explain away Trump’s comment at the end of the third debate when he apparently refused to confirm to moderator Chris Wallace that he would accept the election results. Priebus’ quote didn’t help. He also said that Trump was saying that if there were grounds to demand a recount, he wanted to keep his options open. Unfortunately, his verbal response was awkward and lent itself to misunderstanding: “He is not willing to not concede if he loses and there is no fraud.”)

Politico, “Priebus: Trump ‘not willing to concede,’” Oct. 23, 2016

“I am not a surrogate. I am a daughter,” said Ivanka Trump, speaking at the annual Most Powerful Women Summit. (I’m not sure I understand the difference since Trump was insisting her father would not challenge the results of the election.  She is, actually, his most powerful stand-in.)

Salon, “Ivanka Trump distances herself from Donald Trump, Republicans: ‘I am not a surrogate. I am a daughter,’” Oct. 19, 2016

“I don’t have a pattern of being derogatory and degrading women. I don’t have a pattern ever of degrading those who are disabled, those who have cerebral palsy, those who are not of the same color that I am,” said Gov. Robert Bentley (R-Alabama). He withdrew his support for Donald Trump after the release of the leaked video of Trump making sexual comments about women. (Gov. Bentley admitted he was in a weak position because he had faced a similar scandal. Our sense is that the governor’s outrage is a little too Lady Macbeth. He did say he planned to vote for every Republican except Trump, but predictably the sensational remark became the news and headline.)

Yellow Hammer, “Bentley doubles down against Trump: I don’t have a pattern of degrading women,” Oct. 14, 2016

“Donald Trump does not represent our values and we want nothing to do with him,” said a student group, Liberty United Against Trump, at conservative Liberty University after the release of the 2005 Access Hollywood tape. (The school’s founder, Jerry Falwell Sr., issued a statement that stated, “I am proud of these few students for speaking their minds but I’m afraid their statement is incoherent and false.” The back-and-forth illustrates the risk of statistics. Falwell tried to minimize the impact saying that there were 15,000 resident students and 90,000 online users. Of those, there were only 200–1,200 signatures on the petition and that many weren’t Liberty students. The students countered that they had 1,300 signatures. The number of signatures is irrelevant. One or two students would have been enough to trigger a news story, and the spokesperson leading the effort is a student so it gives the protest credibility.)

The Washington Post, “Liberty University students protest association with Trump,” Oct. 13, 2016

“Dramatization” is the key word in a dispute between Rep. David Jolly (R-Florida) and challenger, Former Governor Charlie Crist. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ran an ad superimposing Jolly’s head and face on another body implying that Jolly and Trump had met and were close. Jolly has actually never met Trump. Crist, as governor, had played golf with Trump. Jolly’s campaign cried fraud but the DCCC has poured $1.5 million into Crist’s campaign. Does including the word “dramatization” make it clear the ad is fictional? Maybe in a strictly commercial sense, but it’s a terrible precedent. How would Governor Crist feel about an ad showing him handing a suitcase of cash to the Iranians – to symbolize that, if elected as a Democrat, Crist would sell out U.S. security interests?

Tampa Bay Times, “David Jolly blasts ‘false’ Democratic ad tying Republican congressman to Donald Trump,” Oct. 12, 2016  

“The allegation of any kind of quid pro quo is inaccurate and does not align with the facts,” said a State Department spokesperson in response to a leak that Undersecretary Patrick Kennedy pressured the FBI to mark Secretary Clinton’s email unclassified in return for State granting permission for agents to be stationed in countries where they are currently not allowed. (Ouch. This information is from one of the FBI’s investigative reports so it has a high degree of credibility.)

Bloomberg Politics, “Pressure Cited Against Marking Clinton E-Mails Classified,” Oct. 17, 2017

“No, we are not making this endorsement simply because Ms. Clinton’s chief opponent is dreadful,” wrote The Washington Post endorsing the former Secretary of State. While ostensibly making a case for Clinton, the Post added, “She and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, are not the first to cash in on the speech circuit, but they have done so on an unprecedented and unseemly scale.” (This is sort of a version of “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?”)

The Washington Post, “Hillary Clinton for president,” Oct. 13, 2016


We’re always looking for examples of communication having a measureable impact. In an essay about the undeniably offensive speech that has characterized this campaign, researchers confirmed that “the difficulty of confronting prejudice… even the politest of objections – or subjecting corrections to loaded words – can almost instantly curb a speaker’s behavior.” That’s certainly my own experience. The lesson? Speak up.

The New York Times, “Lessons in the Delicate Art of Confronting Offensive Speech,” Oct. 12, 2016

Just what is a brand ambassador? Sprint has pushed the definition by hiring former Verizon spokesperson Paul Macarelli still clad in recognizable black glasses and known for the slogan “Can you hear me now?” Macarelli insisted he’s not a spokesperson, although he is being paid, and stated that “I’m one of their customers. They wouldn’t presume to tell me what to say.” We’re obviously all in favor of enlisting your customers, but it’s pretty obvious that Sprint has given him the talking points that Sprint is within one percent of reliability compared with Verizon and 50 percent cheaper.

The New York Times, “With Sprint, Former Verizon Actor Says, You Can Hear Him Just Fine,” Oct. 14, 2016 

An example of how statistics make news – and are sometimes meaningless. The World Economic Forum published its annual study, “Global Gender Gap Report.” It found that it will take 170 years for women to reach pay parity with men. (No one knows what will happen in 10 to 12 years, let alone 170. But the study made the front page of USA Today – and headlines.)

USA Today, “170 years from now, women will earn as much as men,” Oct. 25, 2016


HR Executive, “Culture-Change Agents,” Sept. 16, 2016

HR Executive, “The Trouble with Diversity Training,” August 8, 2016

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