Booth babes mean business????

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For years, the debate has raged on the use of booth babes, half-naked women, models draped over sports cars in bikini’s etc.,  as a legitimate marketing technique. In these days of political correctness, it is a surprise that something so sexist still happens at trade exhibitions.

The debate has reared its head once again, following the use of these virtually naked ladies on a stand at the recent CES Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. They were ostensibly promoting the launch of a new computer hard drive but it is hard to see how this ‘display’ related to the product.

The article, written by Chris Taylor, accompanying this picture attracted hundreds of comments and re-tweets on Twitter and LinkedIn, like:

‘what? Huh? I get its Vegas, but this makes no sense marketing-wise. Or as a reasonable human being’

‘is this an appropriate way to sell a tech product – oh hell yes, this is Vegas baby’

‘we’ve never seen any male booth babes’

‘no matter what reaction these body paint models received, they did exactly what they were hired to do. They attracted attendees and the media to the stand. People are talking about them. Isn’t that what marketing is all about’

‘no its sexist and wrong! Sends a bad message to girls and men’

‘I think that it’s more insulting to men than women, the company obviously believes your hormones overpower your brains’

Obviously, there is a place for temporary stand staff, interpreters, receptionists and specialist skills that support the sales effort and the more attractive and personable they are, the better but ‘booth babes’ are a completely different thing.

When discussing the difference between a products features and benefits, the most frequently used comparison is that no man has ever bought a Porsche because of German engineering (the features) they have bought a Porsche because they are a chick-magnet!!! (benefits)  So you can understand the use of bikini-clad models, draped over the bonnet but at the price of a Porsche, you can only believe that performance is the more compelling reason to buy.

With the Johannesburg International Motor Show, mere months away, it will be interesting to see if the ‘booth babe brigade’ is still in evidence. Mind you, if I visited a stand, with George Clooney draped over the bonnet of a Honda, I would be seriously tempted!!


Do let me have your comments on the use of ‘booth babes’ and whether you believe they still have a marketing role to play.



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