Bimbo Banter


BIMBO Nominees for November 2020


  • Bimbo
  • October 29, 2020
  • by Spaeth Communications

Bimbo blog image d

This month ahead of election day, we have examples that include a range of leaders spanning the political aisle from Sen. Lindsey Graham to former First Lady Michelle Obama. We also have misquotes from Robert Downey Jr. and the Wrong Thing To Say from a Canadian farmer. We close with a cautionary Zoom tale and a great example of the impact of a prop from one of now-Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings.

THE WINNING BIMBO

“Too black,” was how Stan Richards, legendary ad man behind the Richards Group, reacted to a proposed ad for long-time client Motel 6 on an internal Zoom call, adding it wouldn’t appeal to the lodging company’s “white supremacist constituents.” (This really belongs under our Wrong Thing To Say category, but it has had so much impact that it’s the winner. First lesson: the comment was immediately shared and leaked and found its way into industry publication Ad Age and local daily newspaper The Dallas Morning News. Motel 6 immediately terminated its relationship with the agency, as did other major clients such as Keurig Dr Pepper and The Home Depot. Interestingly, although the first comment, “too black,” received most of the attention, it’s actually his second comment about the chain’s “white supremacist constituents” that was most telling. Even worse, Richards appeared to double down on his comments during an interview with Texas Monthly, during which he said, So what I said was, ‘It’s too Black.’ In trying to protect the client’s business, I just didn’t want to have a campaign out there that was going to run off any of their guests. And that campaign would have. It should have been more multicultural, and it wasn’t. It was very Black.” Like so many situations, this one caused a lot of problems for others. The Richards Group will have to lay off so many talented staff, and the North Texas advertising and marketing community will be affected negatively.)

The Dallas Morning News, “Motel 6 fires Dallas ad firm The Richards Group over ‘too Black’ comment by founder Stan Richards,” Oct. 14, 2020

THE RUNNERS-UP

“There’s nothing unconstitutional about this process,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham. This was a classic BIMBO comment. Graham was criticized with the charge that holding the confirmation hearing for now-Justice Amy Coney Barrett so close to the presidential election was unconstitutional, and he repeated and denied the negative. Luckily for him, CNN reversed his comment in its headline and made it a positive affirmation.

CNN, “Lindsey Graham: Holding a Supreme Court confirmation hearing for weeks before an election is constitutional,” Oct. 12, 2020

“Employment-related litigation settlements aren’t used by Medtronic as a means to suppress the issues or hide information regarding the challenges African Americans face at our company and across the corporate landscape,” said a Medtronic spokesperson contributing to a long article about how companies can no longer demand nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) in racial-discrimination settlements. (The spokesperson correctly noted that settlements with mutual non-disparagement clauses and confidential monetary terms are a common practice. However, there is a familiar lesson here. The report included numerous anecdotes from minorities and women who had complained and entered into settlement agreements with their former employers but now were seeking to share the stories of their mistreatment. As with many of these examples, Medtronic also had good messages, noting it is reviewing its NDA policies and working to diversify its management and create a culture where people can speak up freely. “We hear, understand, and are taking action on the deeper and more important message in all this: racial inequity in the workplace must not be ignored,” said a company spokesperson. Another reason for companies’ legal advisors to re-think NDAs is because they don’t work. The #MeToo movement started the ball rolling and people allegedly bound by past NDAs are speaking out.)

The Wall Street Journal, “Racial-Discrimination Settlements Usually Came With an NDA. That’s Changing.,” Oct. 20, 2020

“Robert Downey Jr: It’s Not Evil For Chis Pratt To Be A Christian,” read the headline of an article published by The Federalist about Robert Downey Jr.’s Instagram post defending Chris Pratt after Pratt received attacks on social media over his political and religious beliefs. (While we appreciate Downey’s defense of religious liberty, and we are appalled by the trolls attacking Pratt, we wish The Federalist instead emphasized the positive quotes in Downey’s post, particularly, “He just married into a family that makes space for civil discourse and (just plain fact) INSISTS on service as the highest value.” This was another example of positive comments being overshadowed by negative, sensational words.)

The Federalist, “Robert Downey Jr: It’s Not Evil For Chis Pratt To Be A Christian,” Oct. 21, 2020

“We have no intention of raising dinosaurs,” said Dr. Mónica Solórzano-Kraemer of the Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum. Darn! Solórzano-Kraemer was commenting on European scientists’ research regarding how long DNA can last in insects preserved in resinous materials. Experts opined that it is “rather unlikely” that the DNA extracted from these several-million-year-old materials remains functional. We’ll take that as a firm maybe. The researchers said they’re aware of the Jurassic Park overtones of their studies. Let’s hope so! 

IGN, “‘We Have No Intention of Raising Dinosaurs,’ Say Scientists Extracting DNA From Insects Preserved in Resin,” Oct. 1, 2020

STATISTICS

The law of exceptions advises that you don’t address problems by calling them rare or isolated. This month’s example came from former First Lady Michelle Obama who defended Black Lives Matter protests by saying “only a tiny fraction” are violent. (She was probably right, but that “tiny faction” has destroyed thousands of businesses—many owned by minorities— and caused hundreds of millions of dollars of damage. The article quoted an excerpt from a study conducted by the U.S. Crisis Project that said, “Peaceful protests are reported in over 2,400 distinct locations around the country. Violent demonstrations, meanwhile, have been limited to fewer than 220 locations — under 10% of the areas that experienced peaceful protests." While this is likely true, this statistic isn’t helpful if you happen to live in one of those 220 locations. Most telling, significant portions of the political leadership took months to condemn or even recognize the violence. Protection of private and public property are key functions of government.)

Just the News, “Michelle Obama brands Trump 'racist,' calls BLM movement 'overwhelmingly peaceful,'” Oct. 7, 2020

WRONG THING TO SAY

“I hope they both die,” tweeted Alex Blagg, TV writer and producer, after news broke that President Trump and White House Adviser Hope Hicks tested positive for COVID-19. (This hateful sentiment was echoed by many. What’s even more amazing is that the mainstream media ignored these comments.)

The Daily Wire, “Leftists Cheer News Trump, Hope Hicks Infected With COVID-19: ‘I Hope They Both Die,” Oct. 2, 2020

“Bad apple” was how the owner of family-run, Canadian agribusiness Scotlynn Sweetpac Growers described employee Luis Gabriel Flores Flores. Flores is a Mexican migrant worker who complained publicly that one of his migrant coworkers flown into Ontario to secure Canada’s food supply was not appropriately cared for by farm leaders when he became seriously ill with, and later died from, COVID-19. (The farm became the site of one of the country’s largest coronavirus outbreaks after almost 200 workers from Mexico tested positive, seven were hospitalized and one died. The farm owner insisted that the worker was treated promptly, called Flores a “bad apple” and insinuated that Flores was being used by activists to further the narrative about the alleged systemic vulnerability of migrant farm laborers. This strategy was a mistake. Even if Flores is an anti-business activist, illness and suffering—especially during a pandemic—among migrant workers is real. The owner should have been sympathetic and used his quote to comment about the importance of migrant workers, their work ethic and important partnership to put food on Canadian tables. The New York Times story was balanced and included comments from the farm’s owner Scott Biddle, but the farm’s reputation will likely suffer because of the initially used accusatory phrase “bad apple.”)

The New York Times, “Virus Hits Foreign Farmhands, Challenging Canadians’ Self-Image,” Oct. 11, 2020

“If you’re a young African American, an immigrant, you can go anywhere in this state. You just need to be conservative, not liberal,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham during a forum for South Carolina Senate candidates. (Though poorly worded, we think he intended for this comment to contrast his record and platform with that of his current opponent, Jaime Harrison. Graham also said, “The one thing I can say without any doubt, you can be an African American and go to the Senate. You just have to share the values of our state.”)

Yahoo! News, “Sen. Lindsey Graham says Black people are free to ‘go anywhere’ in South Carolina so long as they’re conservative,” Oct. 10, 2020

MORE EXAMPLES

The confirmation hearings for now-Justice Amy Coney Barrett were much tamer than those of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. One memorable and illustrative moment occurred when Sen. John Cornyn asked her to hold up the notepad in front of her. When Barrett held up a blank notepad with United States Senate letterhead, Cornyn said, “That’s impressive.” (The gesture was supposed to illustrate Barrett’s comprehensive knowledge of the law. The viral moment also prompted a number of nasty memes in which people photoshopped stupid or profane comments onto the notepad. However, it nevertheless illustrated our general observation and recommendation: if you can hold something up, it focuses attention and memory. Generally, we suggest that clients build strategic props into their presentations.)

USA Today, “Amy Coney Barrett: Judge's blank notepad goes viral, Sen. Whitehouse's presentation elicits memes,” Oct. 13, 2020

Remember when we used to say, “The microphone is always on”? We’ve updated this statement to include “the camera is always on” to reflect the Zoom age. Jeffrey Toobin, CNN legal analyst and writer for The New Yorker, learned this lesson when he failed to turn his video off during a Zoom meeting with The New Yorker staff writers and WNYC radio employees. He was caught exposing himself and taking the video-call equivalent of what was charitably described as phone sex. Toobin said, “I thought I had muted the Zoom video. I thought no one on the Zoom call could see me.” A spokeswoman for The New Yorker said Toobin “has been suspended while we investigate the matter.”

The New York Times, “New Yorker Suspends Jeffrey Toobin After Zoom Incident,” Oct. 19, 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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