This post was first published by Meredith L. Eaton on March Communications’ blog, PR Nonsense, and may be viewed here.
As you would expect from any major tech trade show, last week’s Interop event in Las Vegas generated quite a bit of buzz around new announcements, technology innovations and partnerships. But, one thing I didn’t expect to see so much coverage around was the continued use of “Booth Babes.” While booth babes are getting increasingly negative exposure, several of March’s clients who were in attendance at Interop this year found creative ways around this tactic – and to great effect!
For those unfamiliar with the term, booth babes are essentially spokesmodels that companies hire to augment their staff at high-traffic events in order to draw in a crowd. Usually very young and attractive women, booth babes have gotten a lot of negative attention in the past few years for dressing too provocatively and being nothing more than a distraction at these predominately male-attended IT events. And, this year, Interop was no exception.
Journalist Shamus McGillicuddy of TechTarget’s SearchNetworking.com notes, “the companies that hire [booth babes] do a grave disservice to the industry… I lose a lot of respect for companies who rely on them.”
Indeed, this is how many trade show attendees and other journalists feel, especially the successful, tech-savvy women who are typically outnumbered 10 to 1 at events like Interop. McGillicuddy even says that he refuses “to stop at any booth that features these women.” So, while companies may be able to collect a few more leads as a result of their alluring spokesmodels, it could hinder their press exposure as booth babes are a clear deterrent for a growing percentage of trade show attendees, including respected journalists like McGillicuddy.
While booth babes may cast a negative light over companies choosing to employ them, March’s clients CloudSigma and ExtraHop Networks found creative ways around this tactic at this year’s Interop Las Vegas event. Instead of booth babes, CloudSigma brought on a Spock look-a-like (who was 6’ 8”!) to help attract attendees to its booth, which generated a lot of buzz at the event and on social sites like Twitter, even putting it in the running for the “best Interop booth” prize.
Similarly, ExtraHop employed Yo Yo Joe, the U.S. national yo-yo champion, to draw attention to its booth with impressive yo-yo routines set to music and various tricks, including knocking a dime off an attendee’s ear! Coupled with an ExtraHop-branded yo-yo giveaway, ExtraHop attracted a large crowd at the show and got significant recognition from attendees and press alike.
These impressive trade show tactics were not only infinitely more respectable than hiring booth babes, but were far more successful in attracting crowds and generating buzz. As an industry, we can only hope that such creative tactics as Spock and Yo Yo Joe will be the future of technology trade shows. Our hats go off to companies like our clients CloudSigma and ExtraHop for spearheading this movement.