Bimbo Banter

BIMBO of the Year 2014 and year-end nominees

  • Bimbo
  • December 19, 2014
  • by Spaeth Communications


While we have three worthy winning BIMBOs this month, please take time to read the full memo with some of the most interesting material in years. Examples of the “Wrong Thing to Say” come from a British Baroness, a now-former university instructor and Florida’s new football coach, among others. Ukraine’s president also gives us a wonderful new prop example. OK, we love words but sometimes actions do speak louder. The daughter of the CEO of Korean Air ordered a plane back to the gate because she was served nuts in the wrong way, and Facebook founder Zuckerberg’s former roomie went from savior of the New Republic to its detractor. We want to enlist your help in charging Harvard Business School professor Ben Edelman with deceptive advertising and, if you’re looking for an upbeat interview, check out Candy Crowley’s lovely conversation with 43. What a way to end the year in communication!


“We are not the Grinches of Maine,” said Robert Dana, Dean of Students at the University of Maine, trying to explain a communiqué from the administration advising students that “No decorations that could be perceived as religious” should be put up including “Xmas trees, wreaths, Xmas presents, candy canes, etc. What is allowed are winter themes, plain trees without underneath, decorative lights, but not on trees, snowflakes, etc.” (Candy canes? This is political correctness run amok. Following an outcry and growing Facebook group, “Bring Cheer Back to UMaine,” the University quickly backtracked with the BIMBO here. What should he have said? First, they never should have tried to ban decorations – particularly candy canes! Then, they should have fessed up and said “we overreacted.”)

Fox News, “University of Maine says candy cane ban a ‘misunderstanding,’” Dec. 12, 2014

“I never felt overwhelmed or that it was too much for me,” said Heisman Trophy winner and Browns QB Johnny Manziel after getting pounded in a 30-0 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. (Reporting on the disastrous game made clear that the opposing team couldn’t wait to humiliate the young player. Manziel is known for flipping off other players, partying in Las Vegas and openly dismissing other teams. Manziel compounded the BIMBOs by adding “I’m not using the rookie excuse.” Good thing, because he doesn’t have any excuse. And he may not have felt overwhelmed but the score proved otherwise.)

USA Today, “Manziel’s Debut a Dud,” Dec. 15, 2014

“I’m not some kind of patsy,” said author Ron Kessler, angry about the Senate Intelligence Committee report on alleged torture at the CIA which painted him as a preferred or “blessed” writer who would shape a more favorable portrayal of the agency. He added that he formed his own opinions based on deep experience, and “It’s not that I was being bamboozled by the CIA.” (Kessler is fair, tough and incredibly experienced. Many commentators, including former Democratic senators, have faulted the report for not including comment from CIA personnel and for cherry-picking emails and internal comments. Kessler likened the report to the scandal engulfing Rolling Stone Magazine over its reporting of an alleged gang rape on U.Va.’s campus. The senate report doesn’t pretend to be journalism but it does pretend to give a balanced review. However, Kessler should try to avoid the BIMBO comments. At least they didn’t make the headline.)

Bloomberg Politics, “Was Ron Kessler a CIA Journalism Asset?,” Dec. 11, 2014


“We have lost our cooking skills. Poor people don’t know how to cook,” said Baroness Anne Jenkin speaking at the launch of a report on emergency food assistance programs. (An avalanche of criticism fell on the Baroness. She followed with an explanation that she had been “stupidly unscripted,” which may have been true but only made it worse. Given past publicity about the Baroness’ riches and family behavior, she should have known every word would be scrutinized. Note the comment made the headline.)

The Daily Mirror, “Tory Baroness slammed for saying poor people use food banks because they ‘don’t know how to cook,’” Dec. 8, 2014

“Filthy rodent Muslims,” charged Deborah O’Connor, former Florida State University senior business communications instructor, in a series of Facebook posts which became increasingly explicit. Responding to comments on police killings by Colin Lively, a well-known hair stylist, she posted, “You elected POTUS, Holder et al. And they are supposed to represent all Americans, not just blacks,” and then, “Take your Northern fagoot (sic) elitism and shove it up your ass.” (O’Connor left her job, but not before again screwing up and asking the university administration if they could suppress the story. We can’t think of anything she could have done except to have not written the comments in the first place. This is yet one more unfortunate example of how posts on social media are not just person-to-person communication but rather a billboard to the world – and they will be noticed. Note the “bad words” made it into the headline.)

Gawker, “FSU Lecturer Loses Job Over Rant Against “Filthy Rodent Muslims,’” Dec. 10, 2014

“I believe I can win with my dog Claribelle,” said Jim McElwain as he was introduced at a press conference as the new football coach at the University of Florida. (What could he have been thinking? This quote crowded out what he should have been saying to kick off his tenure. The turnaround he brought to Colorado State University’s football program and his bright hopes for Florida’s resurgence would’ve been a good start. Plus, his comment was insulting.)

CBS Sports, “Jim McElwain: ‘I believe I can win with my dog Claribelle,’ playing QB,’” Dec. 6, 2014

“Minimally talented” and “spoiled brat” was how producer Scott Rudin referred to Angelina Jolie in emails which were hacked from Sony. (The hack, now tied to North Korea, is the talk of Hollywood and has embarrassed Sony executives as well as many others. Some emails insulted President Obama and others characterized actors with offensive slurs. Sony co-chairwoman Amy Pascal seemed to be a special target of the leaked emails which were distributed to reporters by a group calling themselves "The Guardians of Peace.” Pascal fell on her sword and issued an abject apology. We wish we could say Pascal’s situation was very different than the FSU instructor, but both acted with total naïveté to the digital world. Sending anything you wouldn’t post publically is a bad idea, especially when you’re a high-profile executive. We hope Pascal survives. If anyone who knows her reads this, tell her not to hide but to pick a few key issues, such as how to attract and increase women to the top ranks of producing. She needs to think of Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg as a model.)

CNN, “After scathing emails, Angelina Jolie photographed with Sony Pictures chief,” Dec. 12, 2014

“Thank you again and Molotov,” wrote Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in a letter to the chairman of the Wisconsin Center District. (Poor Gov. Walker—whom we admire—meant “Mazel Tov.” The letter was actually found and released by the union-backed group, One Wisconsin, to embarrass the governor. Undoubtedly they succeeded. The governor’s staff should review the power of proofreading.)

The Cap Times, “The political pitfalls of culture crossover: Scott Walker edition,” Dec. 10, 2014

Ukraine’s president has taken to carrying around an unusual prop: “I come to work, take the doll, and think what I must do today to protect the country.” Yes, a doll. (The backstory is that it was a gift from Ukrainian soldiers fighting at Donetsk airport. We’ve always said that props are a great device to drive memory, but this is an example we could not have expected.)

BuzzFeed News, “Ukraine’s President Is Taking Military Advice from a Doll,” Dec. 8, 2014


(Of course, we’re all about how words matter, but we admit, sometimes actions speak louder.)

A now-resigned vice president of Korean Airlines, who is also the daughter of the CEO, threw a screaming fit on a flight that prompted her resignation. An attendant served Cho Hyun-ah nuts in a bag rather than on a dish as the plane was preparing to take off from John F. Kennedy International Airport. Cho then forced the plane to return to the gate to expel the attendant who offended her. (The incident went global, and it has greater implications than simply an outburst that was recorded and shared. Her father’s company now faces punishment from South Korean authorities. The story reinforced a feeling that many South Koreans feel that the “chaebols,” the huge family-dominated companies, have too much power and are arrogant and imperious. Lesson? We are democratizing communication, and insults – actions and words – may be shared widely. The Golden Rule is worth repeating: treat others as you would wish to be treated.)

NPR, “Nut Rumpus Prompts Korean Airline Exec to Apologize and Resign,” Dec. 9, 2014

When Chris Hughes, famous for being Mark Zuckerberg’s college roommate and thus a founder of Facebook, bought the venerable but bankrupt New Republic, he was greeted as a messiah. He wrote eloquently about how he planned to protect the publication, penning phrases like “I have and will continue to invest because I care about the strength of journalism in the United States and a national media that serves as a guardian of liberty.” (Who wouldn’t be excited about the future? Unfortunately but probably predictably, the long articles that the New Republic is known for appeal to very few people, and Hughes decided to turn the century-old institution into a very different one. He replaced the editor, Franklin Foer, without even telling him and hired an editor from the gossip site Gawker. Foer only found out when the new editor began calling people to offer them jobs. We’re not big fans of the New Republic’s political philosophy, but we agree with Dana Milbank of The Washington Post that the publication deserved better.)

The Washington Post, “Crafting a sustainable New Republic,” Dec. 7, 2014
The Washington Post, “The New Republic is dead, thanks to its owner, Chris Hughes,” Dec. 8, 2014

We’re classifying the flap generated by the atrocious behavior of Harvard Business School professor Ben Edelman in this category because he teaches negotiation, organizations and markets, and his behavior illustrates that he knows nothing about any of those subjects. If you missed this episode, follow the link below. In brief, Edelman ordered take-out Chinese food online and emailed the restaurant to gripe about a $4 overcharge. He heard back from the founder’s son, Ran Duan, who explained that they were a small, family-owned business and hadn’t updated their website. Edelman demanded a refund of triple the amount and charged that Sichuan Garden was violating Massachusetts law. Emails went back and forth with Edelman writing, “I have already referred this matter to applicable authorities in order to attempt to compel your restaurant to identify all consumers affected and to provide refunds to all of them.” Along the way, Duan asked, “You seem like a smart man, but is this really worth your time?” (In the classic man-bites-dog, Duan may not have been a Harvard graduate and professor, and he may not have a consulting practice that charges $800 an hour, but he is a much, much better negotiator and understands markets. He was named “America’s Most Imaginative Bartender” by GQ Magazine and profiled by Boston Magazine as an entrepreneur. Edelman initially defended his imperious tone, demands and threats, but then beat a retreat with a complete capitulation and apology. In our view? Too late. Edelman advertises himself as an expert on “negotiation, organizations and markets.” This is clearly deceptive, and his former students deserve to be notified and to demand a refund.)

The Washington Post, “Harvard Business School professor apologizes for e-mail rant over a $4 overcharge,” Dec. 10, 2014

Whether you’re a fan of George W. Bush or not, catch the long interview with Candy Crowley where President 43 talked about his new book, “41: A Portrait of My Father.” The fact that President Bush would open up to Crowley, who is infamous among conservatives for intervening to help President Obama in a debate with Mitt Romney, is unusual, and their conversation is enlightening and encouraging.

CNN, “Candy Crowley’s Exclusive Interview with George W. Bush,” Dec. 7, 2014

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