Scouting around the cyberweb for reports on this year’s Computex, you’re just as likely to stumble across, say, The best Windows 8 tablets as you are – and I’m really not exaggerating here – The booth babes of Computex 2012. Heck, there are even YouTube videos celebrating the girls.
We enjoy a good “babe” (if you absolutely insist on using that term) here at Mobot as much as the next blog, but there’s a fine line between having a laugh (see: our running joke about the lovely Christy Wyatt) and acting like a sexist moron. Last week, Computex 2012 parked its butt firmly on the latter side.
Unfortunately, the term “booth babes” is now fairly common when it comes to these trade shows. Far from being an eastern phenomenon, they’re also a firm fixture at the likes of Mobile World Congress (Barcelona) and CES (Las Vegas).
But, at the risk of opening a can of worms, I feel a tad more concerned for the booth babes out in Taipei, where girls are – I think it’s fair to say – a little more timid than their European and American counterparts.
While the western booth babes are comparable to, I dunno, air stewardesses (yeah, they look good - it's part of the job, but step out of line and you’ll get a well-deserved slap on the face), the scantily clad eastern girls are openly leered at, and at times look utterly bewildered. At worst, I’m reminded of that app review.
Asus put its foot in it last week with a picture of a booth babe showing off a new product – taken from behind, and an accompanying tweet reading: “The rear looks pretty nice. So does the new Transformer AIO.”
I’m not completely devoid of a sense of humour, so I can appreciate why – on some level – that’s amusing, but – coming from the official Asus twitter account – it’s not very professional.
If that were to happen in an office environment, the booth babe would have pretty good cause for a sexual harassment complaint. Uhm, and she’d probably have a title other than “booth babe”.
Indeed, the post caused a bit of a media storm and was ultimately removed. Asus later crawled: “We apologise for the inappropriate comment on Twitter earlier. We will take steps to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”
The problem is that booth babes inevitably draw a crowd, so manufacturers – and this was particularly evident at Computex – end up going all out to produce the biggest spectacle, including elaborate dance routines, and outfits that genuinely wouldn’t look out of place in a strip club.
Russian manufacturer CBOSS went a little too far at this year’s Mobile World Congress. After offering delegates the chance of a “romantic dinner” with one their “famous girls”, they ultimately found themselves banned from Mobile World Congress 2013. (source)
Let’s not forget: “at the end of the day” (worst phrase ever), we’re talking about smartphones and tablets here. Is there really any place for semi-naked women around these products? Or maybe I’m being a little melodramatic.
I mean, these girls know exactly what they’re getting into; it’s not like they’re being forced at gunpoint to strip down and parade in front of big fat tech-loving businessmen in suits.
More importantly, they’re safe, and – hopefully – well paid. I guess you could argue that there’s actually a moral victory for the booth babes, too, as us drooling morons are ultimately lining their pockets.
And, let’s face it, the trade shows would be a heck of a lot duller without the smiles of the booth babes.
What do you think, guys? Was the Asus tweet out of line? Should booth babes be a thing of the past? Or did you abandon this feature after the first paragraph and immediately google “The booth babes of Computex 2012”?