When Dilbert and his peers poke fun at marketing trade show tactics they’re often referring to the use of “booth babes.” Now, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article (The Evolution of Auto Show ‘Booth Babes’) it appears the auto-show model is coming back. I blogged on this topic in November 2007 (Using Marketing Booth Babes) and that post created a very spirited discussion. Using sex to sell has been a tactic in advertising since its beginning. But most of the audience (both men and women) who responded to my original post clearly thought this practice had a great deal of downside risk.
According to the article the auto industry is leveraging these “so-called product specialists” to not only provide detailed information about the cars, but to also help collect market research data. The “aspiring fashion models or actors earn as much as $1,000 per day” providing information and documenting consumer comments.
What do you think about this strategy? How do you feel and react when it’s used on you as a consumer? As a marketing professional do you consider booth babes appropriate for your trade show or conference events? A quote from Thursday’s article:
“The renewed demand for models stems from several factors. Auto makers are willing to dress the predominantly female hires more provocatively than was customary during the industry’s downturn and bankruptcies, said Ms. Popson. This year, with auto sales at near-decade highs and a glow overhanging Detroit, car companies see value in sex appeal. They are “saying ‘it’s time to have fun again,’ ” Ms. Popson added.”
So, is your company getting ready to have fun? I understand that this is a loaded topic. Terms like, “political correctness,” and “sensitivity” might be floating in your head right now. You might also be thinking it’s nothing more than gimmick marketing and lacks true creative imagination. Or perhaps you’re currently neutral on the subject. But what if it will pull foot traffic into your booth?