In years past, CES exhibitors used a plethora of scantily clad women to titillate attendees and draw attention to their consumer electronics products and services. As society matured, the practice became less and less acceptable, and those that were slow to change with the times began drawing angry feedback from those who felt the women involved were being exploited, and the tone they were setting was simply inappropriate. Well, this year at #CESlive the infamous "booth babes" were almost nowhere to be found. In their place were a lot of beautiful, bright, articulate women — and men! — explaining and demonstrating some amazing gadgets.
That companies overwhelmingly still tend to hire attractive public relations and marketing people, especially when they're female, could still be seen as a disservice or even a new manifestation of the same problem. Just like bright, aesthetically pleasing signs draw our attention, millions of years of evolution have made it so we, as humans, are drawn to bright, aesthetically pleasing people as well (regardless of gender).
Unfortunately, not all the marketing people I met were up to the task. Some, clearly, were hired on looks and looks alone. That still needs to change. Being good looking might get a glance, but being able to transfer that initial human engagement into interest in the product, being about to express its value, and being able to make the product shine, is what gets attention — and sales.
Personally, I don't find it offensive to see beautiful women selling products as long as they're every bit as bright and articulate as they are beautiful. So yes, the era of booth babes seems to be over, and in its place a more traditional, idealized marketing model. Is that a sign that we, as a society, are finally making progress? That we're going too far? That we're not going far enough? Let me know!