Bimbo Banter

BIMBO Nominees for October 2012

  • Bimbo
  • October 1, 2012
  • by Spaeth Communications

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We hope you enjoy all of the ways we’re featuring social media and its opportunities. Our goal is to include even more examples that demonstrate how multiple channels, especially social media, are strategic tools.

The Full BIMBO features BIMBOs from the Romney campaign, the author of Free Range Kids, the Pop Warner league, a New York City business man and a mayoral candidate. Of course, the most egregious “Wrong Thing to Say” came from the response to the attack on the U.S. Benghazi consulate.  Additional comments in this category come from someone trying to escape jury duty, and the ongoing “pink slime” controversy. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wins the “Shockingly Unprepared” award, a new category we just had to add. There’s a good example of how to engage employees from Charlotte, N.C., a not-so-good example from United Airlines and an interesting example of blurring between radio and TV (hint: just about everyone can see you now).

“I was not calling her stupid,” said Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary after a passenger complained on Facebook about having to pay $380 to print her family’s boarding passes at the airport. (Ryanair charges passengers 60 euros to print a boarding pass. The passenger’s complaints generated support from hundreds of thousands of people. O’Leary told the UK publication, The Telegraph, “We think Mrs. McLeod should pay 60 euros for being so stupid,” but the resulting outcry didn’t cause him to backtrack. He later added, “I was not calling her stupid but all those passengers are stupid who think we will change our policies or our fees.” Ouch. The word “stupid” was a needless insult. He should have said, “We provide a wide number of choices for our passengers, and we educate them to take advantage of the opportunity to save everyone time and money by doing things like printing their own boarding passes.” Notice that the word “stupid” made the headline.)

NBC News, “The truth comes out: CEO says ‘stupid’ consumers deserve hefty fees,” Sept. 7, 2012

“Mitt doesn’t disdain the poor,” was the title of a video interview Ann Romney did with a local TV station. (This was more puzzling than anything else. The interview was part of the Romney campaign’s effort to reach out to women and a broad range of voters. Mrs. Romney actually did a wonderful job. The interviewer asked, “Does Governor Romney disdain the poor?” to which she replied emphatically with a nice smile, “No, of course not,” and the interview continued. She did not repeat the negative word. Why would the campaign pull that exchange out and use it as the title? Subsequently, the campaign removed the video from its account.)

Buzzfeed, “Ann Romney: Mitt Doesn’t Disdain The Poor,” Sept. 18, 2012

“I don’t think I’m a crazy mom,” wrote Lenore Skenazy, author of Free Range Kids, about a service that charges parents $350 to have their children play unsupervised in Central Park. (Skenazy says she was just trying to make the point that children need freedom and New York City is safer than it was in days when parents did allow their children to run through the park.)

Good Morning America, “NYC Mom Charging Parents To Let Kids Play in Unsupervised Park,” Sept. 11, 2012

“I have never paid a player to go out and hurt a player, period, end of story,” said Darren Crawford, coach of the Pop Warner Orange County little league team, the Tustin Cobras, in response to a whistleblower accusation that – just like the New Orleans Saints – coaches were paying players to deliver hard hits to opponents, with special bonuses if a player was knocked out of a game. (Scary. The national Pop Warner organization said the right things, “We take this matter very seriously,” and they’re “investigating.” Will they learn the most important lesson from the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky mess? It’s important to create a culture where people feel they can tell the folks at the top things they may not want to hear. And will they be heard? Investigating after the fact is far inferior to hearing about a problem beforehand.  See the new “Shockingly Unprepared” category below.)

Wall Street Journal, “Pop Warner Probes ‘Bounties,’” Sept. 29, 2012

“We certainly didn’t pay anyone in Russia,” said Sheldon Silverston, a businessman working with Alex Rovt, a Ukrainian (Carpathian) businessman successfully doing billions of dollars of barter deals with fertilizer manufacturers during the volatile days when the Soviet Union was dissolving and a new order was forming. (The Businessweek article is a fascinating look at the kinds of business deals and industries the media rarely covers, but it’s the classic BIMBO comment, made in response to lawsuits claiming that Silverston used funds to bribe former Soviet officials. He goes on to describe Rovt’s knowledge on the ground, language ability and network of contacts.  That should have been the quote.)

Bloomberg Businessweek, “This is Not a Russian Oligarch,” Sept 10, 2012

“People get tickets there everyday. It’s not like I robbed a bank or shot someone,” said Margaret Serna-Bonetti who was stopped for speeding and driving with a suspended license.  (Serna-Bonetti is a candidate for mayor in Salinas, Calif. It may be true that people get tickets everyday, but someone who’s running for office should both observe the law and have a legitimate license.)

Central Coast News, “Salinas Mayor Candidate Says She Was Cited for Speeding, Driving on Suspended License,” Sept. 19, 2012


Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the UN repeatedly used the word “spontaneous” when describing the protests in the Middle East, including the violent attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. For almost a week, she and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that the riots were a reaction to a trailer for an amateur video which purportedly mocks the Prophet Mohammed. (This claim was rebutted immediately by Libyan President Mohammed el-Megarif who said, “The idea that this criminal and cowardly act was a spontaneous protest that just spun out of control is completely unfounded and preposterous.” It’s stunning to have such contradictory accounts. We also believe the Administration erred by continuing to describe the video as “reprehensible” and “hateful.” It was mostly incompetent, and the unfortunate impression was that the Administration was agreeing with the protestors. This should have been an opportunity to stand up for free speech, not only one of the United States’ most precious freedoms, but a value the rest of the world desperately needs to understand and embrace.)

Fox News, “Ambassador Rice spends Sunday reinforcing White House position that Middle East violence was ‘spontaneous,’” Sept. 16, 2012

“Why don’t you give answers that aren’t b*llsh*t for a change?” wrote reporter Michael Hastings to State department official Philippe Reines who fired back, “I now understand why the official investigation by the Department of the Defense as reported by The Army Times The Washington Post concluded beyond a doubt that you’re an unmitigated as*hole. How’s that for a non-b*llshIt response? Now that we’ve gotten that out of our systems, have a good day. By good day, I mean f**k off.” (The exchange was generated by the controversy around CNN’s decision to report information from Ambassador Stevens’ diary, violating their promise to wait until the family gave them permission. This is also an example of information quickly leaking between channels. It was absolutely predictable that these emails would be made public.)

Slate: “The State Dept. Really Doesn’t Want to Keep Talking About the Ambassador’s Diary CNN Found,” Sept. 24, 2012

“I hold extreme prejudices against homosexuals and black/foreign people and couldn’t possibly be impartial if either appeared in court,” was what a UK man wrote in an attempt to be excused from jury duty. (It worked – but the judge is considering whether to prosecute him for failing to serve jury duty.”)

Yahoo, “Juror says he’s too homophobic and racist to serve now faces prosecution,” Sept. 11, 202

 “The current officials have made great strides and are performing admirably,” said the NFL in a statement on September 17. Later that week came the botched call in the Packers/Seattle game giving the game to Seattle in a hotly disputed call over a touchdown pass. (This illustrates why you say the strongest truthful thing, but nothing more. The statement got it partly right when it said the replacements were working “under unprecedented scrutiny and great pressure.” Note that the phrase “are performing admirably” made the sarcastic headline.)

NBC Sports, “NFL statement: Replacement refs “are performing admirably,” Sept. 17, 2012

Beef Products Inc., a South Dakota company, was almost forced out of business when news reports labeled its “lean, finely textured beef” as “pink slime”. The company is now suing ABC News for defamation. BPI certainly suffered – it lost 80 percent of its business in 28 days, and closed three of its four plants, which cost 650 workers their jobs. (We’re sympathetic, but this is the wrong way to rebuild the business. Their attorney, Dan Webb, needs to take our course. When he announced the suit, he said that the news reports created the impression that “It’s some type of chemical product, that it’s not beef. It led people to believe that it’s some kind of repulsive, horrible, vile substance that got put into ground beef and hidden from consumers.” Talk about repeating negatives! Does anyone have any contacts at this company? They need help. And take it from us; this is a first amendment issue, as noted above, one of the most precious rights in America. Annoying as it is, the press has the right to get things wrong, to be obnoxious and to be subjective. That they so frequently exercise this right can be infuriating, but the alternative is on display over in the Middle East. What should BPI do? Read our very first case study at the national level, National Pipe and Tube vs. Bankers Trust. The little guy won.)

Associated Press, “BPI sues ABC News for defamation,” Sept. 13, 2012


Facebook’s new VP of marketing convened a “Client Council” of very big wigs to discuss what they needed from Facebook. CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg joined via video.  A majority of the questions centered around how if companies raised their advertising commitment, they “could be assured a return on their investment.” Zuckerberg’s response, according to one of the attendees, was “That’s a great question and we probably should have an answer to that, shouldn’t we?” (Pardon us while we pick our chins up from the floor. Yes, you should have been prepared both for the question and how to handle a question for which you didn’t have an answer. He should have said, “That’s the question we’re focused on, just so that we’re on exactly the same page that you are. We are committed to fulfilling your expectations, and we have several promising avenues that Carolyn (Everson) has been telling you about.”)

The Wall Street Journal, “Inside Facebook’s Push to Woo Brands,” Aug. 15, 2012


The City of Charlotte is self-insured and looking for ways to get employees to exercise more and focus on staying healthy. They tried six-week challenges allowing employees to tally exercise on a website, gaining points for their department. Similar experiments are underway with San Francisco-based Keas. The result? Participation skyrocketed. Keas also gives points for taking online health quizzes, “An activity that proved surprisingly addictive.”  (The takeaway? As we’ve said over and over, people want to be engaged. It’s not enough to give booklets and posters and information. Engage them. Start now.)

Bloomberg Businessweek, “Let the Wellness Games Begin,” July 29, 2012

This month’s example of consumers complaining via social media and gaining an audience is Maggie Rizer, a supermodel, who was traveling to San Francisco with her golden retrievers. Two-year-old Bea arrived dead. Worse, United Airlines apparently gave her the run around, kept her waiting in the terminal and then refused to release the dog’s body for several hours. Rizer’s vet’s autopsy ruled the death a result of heatstroke, although their other dog arrived safely. (While it’s difficult to tell exactly what went on, this looks like an example of a situation that should have been anticipated, and where the initial reaction greatly contributed to the problem. United’s initial reaction included the line, “our internal investigation does not show any irregularities as evidenced by the fact that your companion dog and other animals on board did not suffer the same fate.” Later, a United spokesperson said to the press, “We understand that the loss of a beloved pet is difficult and express our condolences to Ms. Rizer and her family for their loss.”  This is another example of the importance of being prepared for “routine” crises and being able to respond quickly and in a way that connects with the public. One fact stands in dispute: Ms. Rizer charges that United called her vet and said – falsely – that the family had given permission for the airline to obtain the autopsy results. Either that’s true, or it isn’t. United should have immediately expressed its sympathy, recognized the impact on the family, made a commitment to investigate and report what actually happened.)

Huffington Post, “Supermodel Maggie Rizer Claims United Airlines Killed Her Dog,” Sept. 21, 2012


Previous divisions between print and electronic have blurred. That’s also true of radio and television.  Mike Francesa of WFAN-AM now simulcasts on the YES Network, so fans can see him as well as hear him. That proved problematic when viewers noted on the blog that they can see him nodding off when other reporters are speaking. (Oops. As Cisco CEO John Chambers noted last fall, five years from now, everything will be video. Note that the headline indicates the report links to the footage.)

Yahoo! News, “WFAN radio host Mike Francesa falls asleep during Yankees update (Video),” Sept. 12, 2012  

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