Test finds 'booth babes' ineffective

In addition to being controversial, a recent test found that sex doesn't always sell.

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Booths at a trade show staffed by "booth babes" generated less foot traffic and sales leads than booths that didn't, according to a test conducted by head of marketing and growth at Frontback Spencer Chen.

Like some people in the games industry, Chen thinks that hiring provocatively dressed women to help promote technology products is "a pretty indefensible practice," but he wanted to prove that it was also an ineffective marketing strategy.

When he had the opportunity to promote the same product at two different booths at the same event (he doesn't specify the product and event), he put the theory to the test by staffing one of them with booth babes and the other with "contractors that knew the local area and had established people skills." Last week, he posted his results and observations to TechCrunch.

"The booth that was staffed with the booth babes generated a third of the foot traffic (as measured by conversations or demos with our reps) and less than half the leads (as measured by a badge swipe or a completed contact form) while the other team had a consistently packed booth that ultimately generated over 550 leads," he said.

In Chen's opinion, booth babes intimidated people instead of drawing them in, couldn't educate the audience about the product they were promoting as well as the other team, and weren't approached by legitimate business and product executives.

This has been a controversial issue in the games industry as well. At the Game Developers Conference 2013 International Game Developers Association board members Brenda Romero and Darius Kazemi resigned from their positions at the group after scantly-clad women preformed at one of the organization's official events.

In 2006, the Entertainment Software Association, which runs E3, announced that it would no longer tolerate barely covered women hired by game publishers to attract men to their booths. Though this had an affect on E3, the practice hasn't been totally eliminated.

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