It’s so impressive when you ask young girls today what they want to be when they grow up and they say things like, “President of the United States”, “Lady Gaga” or “rich and famous”. My own youthful career aspirations clustered around a trifecta of glamour/trollop role models that included: Playboy bunny, Bond girl, or go-go dancer.
These were hi-viz jobs available to a chosen few. For the average girl-next-door, (No, not the one with the downy upper lip and the cats, the other one with the pretty smile, long legs and cheerful bosoms), there’s was—and still is—a fourth career choice: Booth Babe. Had I only known about this ubiquitous yet under-the-radar option, I would’ve sprung for a bottle of Jolen instead of the kibble. Because you see, being a booth babe is easy. All you have to do is stand around in a drafty conference hall for 12-hour days in a string bikini and body paint, handing out trade show swag to googly-eyed men with damp skin.
For starters, the fashions are fabulous. At the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, booth babes wore ensembles that fell into the following categories: Victorian maiden, Space-Age fembot, Malibu Barbie, and horny girl-next-door. I guess these costume choices—and by choices I don’t mean the women’s—are the result of advanced algorithms used by auto and techno gadget companies. The odds that a guy will buy an expensive car or computer whatzit increase exponentially if, at a trade show, he’s handed a free pen with a company’s logo on it by a woman wearing a metal studded bra. In corporate speak: More T&A means more ROI.
There’s nothing new here, cheesecake has been used to sell cars and other guy stuff since the ’60s when a trade show manual specified the deployment of “young ladies…handling literature requests, inquiries and telephones.” But, newsflash! Women buy cars and computers too. You don’t need to flash us with a pair of spray-tanned double Ds to get our attention—a spec sheet and a bottle of mineral water will do.
In fact, there’s something kind of desperate when a manufacturer needs nubile flesh at a product launch to generate consumer interest. That this sales strategy is dated is one thing. Can’t the corporate brain trusts come up with any marketing strategy other than: “Girls! Girls! Girls!?” And what about the women themselves? The blogosphere is in one of its perennial uproars over the apparent sexploitation of booth babes. Yet, there’s no evidence of an international booth babe cartel that preys on vulnerable and attractive women. As some of the companies helpfully point out, many of the booth babes are MBAs and engineers.
Of course it’s hard to concentrate on her expert product knowledge when she’s on stage in a silver bikini shimmying to Nutbush City Limits.
Above: Booth babes appear at ComiCon 2011. Image credit: Anime Nut via Flickr