As you know, on Friday I blogged about CES and Booth Babes, and in particular mentioned Hyper’s painted ladies. I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback on the piece, and it’s due to be reposted on BlogHer’s Tech section tomorrow.
Then I got this email today. I am reprinting it almost in its entirety (I’ve removed some contact information that I’m not sure why it was included), and since it’s a press release I was sent, I figure there’s no harm in sharing it.
HYPER Responds to “Sexist” Accusations,
Reveals Truth About CES Booth
Monday, January 14th 2013 LAS VEGAS: Fremont-based manufacturer of portable storage and external batteries HYPER has made its mark on CES 2013 with one of the most talked-about trade show booths in recent consumer electronics history. The booth dubbed “HYPERWorld” was the undisputed traffic-driver of the iLounge hall, using bright colors, lighting, music, body painted models, and an overall club atmosphere to showcase its products to the public. Many were awed and thoroughly intrigued by the vibrant marketing displayed by HYPER, but a small group of activists thought differently in accusing the IT company of “feeding rape culture” and “dehumanizing women” based on the scantily clad body-painted dancing models seen at the booth. The accusations began with blogger Jennifer Newsom, who openly accused the company of “sexist marketing” in a blog post dated on Thursday, January 10th. The hashtag #NotBuyingIt also spawned from her efforts, creating a viral attack on HYPER and its supporters starting with Twitter and eventually filtering through to Facebook.
In response to all accusations, HYPER CEO Daniel Chin released an official statement this morning, which can be read here: “We were approached by MissRepresentation.org, the organization behind the #NotBuyingIt viral attack, with offers to manage our public relations in the midst of the illusion of an uproar and stirring controversy created no less by that very organization. I would like to go on record to say that there is no damage to control and we are not apologetic for anything. The overwhelming majority who were at CES and saw our display appreciate and understand what we were trying to do. We will continue to engage the rest who were not present yet were quick to pass harsh judgment based on a single photo taken out of context. HYPER is co-owned and co-managed by both men and women. The hardworking men and women who worked to put together the CES booth were deeply offended by said fraudulent organization that ultimately aims to profiteer by attempting to hurt our company’s image. The impression of an uproar and stirring controversy has given us more publicity than we could’ve imagined.”
A slew of other media outlets including Mashable, Gizmodo, Vice, Cult of Mac, and StoryGuide got their words in regarding the issue, commonly known as “booth babes.” Gizmodo’s Jesus Diaz also responded to the viral attacks, stating, “…many people are now outraged. I’m not…I don’t find this is offensive, tasteless or derogatory at all. At least, not as much as the classic booth babe. Yes, I realized that this company is obviously trying to grab eyeballs, but I look at this booth and just see female bodies painted. They are not in an erotic position. They have no attitude whatsoever. They are just there, standing like statues. Neutral. To me, this is more harmless art installation than the blatant eroticism of the classic booth babe.”
Other than raising the bar for trade show booths, HYPER states they will continue to display their products in a “fashionable” manner moving into 2013.
Conversation started: Friday, January 11, 2013 11:07 AM
[11:07 AM] Imran Siddiquee has joined the chat.
[11:07 AM] Imran Siddiquee: I’m the communications director at MissRepresentation.org, the organization behind this week’s #NotBuyingIt campaign on Facebook and Twitter, in response to your CES display. Hundreds are commenting online about how offensive they find it. I was wondering if you’d like to comment on how folks are reacting? We’d love to work with you in releasing new ads promoting the quality of products without offending our community. And we’d love to champion your agency as receptive to change and the voice of women.
[11:25 AM] Angelo has joined the chat.
[11:31 AM] Angelo has left.
[11:48 AM] Imran Siddiquee: Hi
[11:48 AM] Imran Siddiquee: Wondering if there is anyone in your PR department with whom I could speak?
[11:54 AM] Angelo has joined the chat.
[11:54 AM] Angelo: hold on
[11:55 AM] Angelo: Can I get your information and I would have them contact you instead.
[11:58 AM] Imran Siddiquee: sure
[11:58 AM] Imran Siddiquee: [Whitney's note: I removed his email address]
[11:58 AM] Imran Siddiquee: [and his phone number]
[11:59 AM] Angelo: Ok, I will forward your information to the right people
[11:59 AM] Imran Siddiquee: Thanks!
[12:02 PM] Imran Siddiquee has left.
[Redacted: after this odd section, it actually had IP addresses and other computer related information shared. I have no idea WHY it would be in it]
About Sanho Corporation:
Founded in 2005, Sanho Corporation designs, manufactures and markets IT accessories with a focus on Apple accessories, portable power and storage. Sanho is committed to developing cutting edge products with a dedicated focus on performance, quality, value and service. Sanho is headquartered in Silicon Valley, California USA, with a production facility near Shanghai, China, and R&D teams in both countries.
HYPER is a consumer electronics brand by Sanho Corporation. HYPER Products include HyperJuice – the World’s most advanced portable battery pack for Apple MacBook, iPad, iPhone, Android and any USB device – and HyperDrive iUSBport, a portable solution to connecting USB drives & USB devices to iPad, iPhone, Android and any WiFi-enabled device.
[Additional contact information removed]
This was an unsolicited email from unknownlabs, which seems to be representing Sanho (and Hyper). I did not reach out to anyone from Hyper when I wrote my blog- because frankly, my piece was less about pointing the finger at Hyper in particular, and more about how unnecessary booth babes are in general. They were just an example (and I admitted that I own some of their chargers). I actually know when they browsed my site to get my email address (and I’m assuming this same press release went out to anyone who blogged about them and had readily available contact information)
Frankly, this press release is a mess- without even reading into the messages in it. Why include the chat at all? All it does is indicate that MissRepresentation.org got in touch with them. There’s no resolution- and certainly no need to include IP addresses or contact information unless you’re trying to set them up as a target for scrutiny. This is the internet, so I know how easily mobs form.
Then there are the double email signatures for Nate Sirotta (I removed the contact information for unknownlabs, since that wasn’t included in the press release. But it did have a phone number and email address that wasn’t the same as the Sanho numbers).
Content-wise, the arguments are problematic. If you boil it down, they’re trying to say it isn’t sexist because they have women on their PR team. And that because a group of people weren’t bothered by it, there’s nothing to complain about. While it’s nice to hear what their intent was (and I’ve been to plenty of naked model art installations), it doesn’t mean that they can’t have also sent the wrong message.
Now I want to hear what you think. Am I alone in thinking this is a strange and ineffective press release?
Update: I finally sent an email to them, asking why the chat was included. And this is the response I received.
The main purpose of including the transcript was to show that after openly accusing our client of sexism and initiating a hashtag campaign against us, MissRepresentation proceeded to then reach out to Daniel Chin (CEO) to gain his marketing business to “repair” the “damage.” We feel it’s important for people to know that this correspondence took place. Hope that makes sense…happy to answer any further questions!
I think that anyone who reads this can agree that if that’s what they were going for, it still missed the mark- I couldn’t figure out why it was included, and I’m pretty good at comprehension. So for a press release, it makes no sense. (Sorry unknownlabs, but it’s true. None of my very literate friends could figure it out either.)
I went over to MissRepresentation.Org to see if they had anything to say about the situation, and they did- they reached out to see if they could help them see why it was problematic, and understand the issue. For free.
I’ll let you form your conclusions on the issue- but I think we can all agree that the press release above needed a little more editing before being sent out.