January 11, 2013

CES: Worshipping at a different altar.

Yes, this is a reference to my last blog post’s title (Worshipping at the alter of tech).

Right now, CES (Consumer Electronics Show) is going on, a ginormous tradeshow in Las Vegas. Companies pull out the new tech they’ll be rolling out and the toys that they want you to demand from them (ala concept cars at Auto Shows).

And unfortunately, it would seem that CES is filled to brim with booth babes. For those unaware, booth babes are the models hired to decorate a booth. Like the girls standing next to cars at auto shows.

And yes, it’s unfortunate. Because it sends an immediate message that these products are intended for men, regardless of what it is. You can disagree with me all you like, but this is a picture tweeted by @emily from HyperDrive’s booth. (Apparently there are booth bros, too, but all I’ve seen are pictures of women- which is pretty telling itself)

Hyper sells portable hard drives and charging devices. Gorgeous ones, that should be able to sell themselves without the scantily clad women (I own one one of their charging devices). This picture bothers me for a myriad of reasons- but just look at the crush of photographers trying to get pictures of the women. What will be remembered- the product or the gimmick?

Not to mention it goes beyond a message that the target audience are men, but that those men must be slaves to their sexual urges and will throw money at something because pretty women are there. (So men, you should be insulted too, and not just on behalf of women)

Over in the geek world, booth babes wind up giving female cosplayers a bad rap, too. People who don’t know better get confused, and use the term booth babe (who as I previously mentioned are hired models who generally know nothing about the product) to insult attractive cosplayers who do know what they’re talking about. They are so used to seeing attractive women behind booths that are there simply as eye candy that they assume if they see one out on the floor that they don’t know anything as well, and treat them poorly. (While we’re at this- don’t get mad at the booth babes, they’re just models looking for work. We should be annoyed with the companies who hire them.)

Frankly, it’s all insulting. Especially when technology is as gorgeous as it is. Look at me- I admitted I am having a love affair with my television because of its slick design and amazing features. I want devices that look good and work well. I am the target audiences for shows like CES. I’m young, love tech, and I apply it regularly to my life. Not to mention I’m teaching my children to appreciate tech. Show me a sexy interface, or something with sleek lines? And I’m hooked. Throw it in the hands of a pretty girl who isn’t an actual spokesperson, and I’m going to assume that your product isn’t capable of selling itself.

I’m all for sexy. But I won’t buy a product just because you have a good looking person standing there holding it. And from what I’ve seen on the internet, I’m not the only.

So what do you think? Do booth babes and bros still have a place at conventions? Let me know

Update: I received a press release from a PR firm representing Hyper/Sanho, and it’s not only odd- but it’s possibly more problematic than the booth itself.

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