Apparently Booth Babes Don't Work

Booth babes have been a fixture at video games events for as long as I can remember. Some events, like PAX, have banned the use of booth babes, but they remain prominent at events like E3 and the Tokyo Game Show. But here's the interesting thing: apparently booth babes do not work.

Spenser Chan, the head of marketing and growth at Frontback had a suspicion that booth babes weren't a great idea, but at an event a couple of years back he tested that theory.

After being offered some free space at a trade show, Spenser staffed the space he had paid for the 'booth babes' but, for the other area, specified the need for "show contractors that knew the local area and had established people skills". Instead of the typical booth babes, Spenser had two "grandmothers" doing the job that 'booth babes' usually did.

The results were astounding. The 'booth babes' generated a third of the foot traffic compared to the 'Grandmothers'. And the grannies themselves managed to triple the lead count compared to the previous year.

Obviously the experiment isn't water tight. Other factors could have been the position of the two different booths, the knowledge base of the grandmothers, etc — but Spenser Chan's post makes for interesting reading. He makes some fairly generalised observations about the experiment, claiming that booth babes are actually more likely to make men anxious, and that business and product executives don't tend to talk to 'booth babes'. One more nefarious generalisation he makes is that booth babes tend to be lazy, but I think that's completely unfair.

That said, it is an interesting read. You can check out the whole post here.

Booth Babes Don’t Work [Tech Crunch]


    Yeah the false flirting annoys me. I feel like saying I'm not some insecure nerd cliché just let me try the game please.
    I rather have upbeat gamers to interact with or the devs.

      Hey sweetie, I really like the unique way you spell your name.
      I'm a little lonely right now, I think someone as interesting as you would be very interesting to chat to ;)

        You're in arkayn! Go for it!

          Oh god I hope she does not have balls! Please God, please. hahaha

        Are you the same "girl" that sends me emails asking to hook up or wondering why I didn't reply to your message. I feel totally bad that hotmail always sends it to the junk mail.

    I'd talk to those grannies. Especially if they were the types of grannies everybody loves. You know, that one granny you love to visit because of how sweet and gentle she is. The one who shoves candy into your pockets when your parents are looking the other way. The granny who has that old fashion water cooler that works 10 times better then your air conditioner. Who has a fridge out the back in the garage full of ice-pops.

    Weren't there booth babes at PAX melbourne last year though?

      I'm pretty sure those girls in the photos, and the World of Tank girls, were by a wide margin the closest PAX Aus had to booth babes.

        So they still had booth babes but in no way the kind of booth babes E3 has sunk to the levels of having? Im not stating, just asking lol

          It also wasn't really done with consent, but since it was technically a new event they thought that it would have been a simple, "Go without saying" kind of thing that they ignored. After the first day they pulled them aside and made then wear their uniforms in a less revealing manner. I can't remember exactly what, I think it was not pulling the skirts up and wearing stockings.

          Last edited 16/01/14 12:49 pm

            Aaaaah that makes a *lot* more sense. PAX usually makes a big deal about equality, so someone skirting the rules makes it a lot clearer. Ta :)

              Think of it like Lisa telling Bart to go to bed, and he went to Homer and Marge's bed stating, "You didn't say which bed".
              Probably the same thing. "Well you said no booth babes at PAX, but this is AUS PAX. Totally different name".

              Initially the World of Tanks girls weren't going to wearing leggings at all. They got a telling off, and were instructed to go get some.
              They and the Sennheisser groups were advised about the rules beforehand, but chose to ignore them. The PA guys decided it wasn't going to be fair to attendees to entirely boot them out, and some teething for Aus's first PAX was to be expected, but they seemed under the impression that the groups now understand they are serious.

              The World of Tanks girls weren't too bad generally. For the most part while they were clearly intended to look pretty and lure you in, BUT, if you were just walking past they'd leave you, and if you did want to talk to them they on the whole seemed to know stuff about the product.
              The Sennheisser girls were just grabbing people and dragging them over to the booth for eyecandy photos, and weren't really doing any talking. Pretty terrible, and I can't imagine them working out as intended (and would be ineffective like this article describes).

          I didn't look at the photo properly. I think on the first day they were wearing more revealing police uniforms, then when they got in trouble for it they swapped skirts for pants and did another button up and that's what you see in the article header. World of Tanks weren't outright cliche booth babes. From memory they had short skirts and a little cleavage, but from what I saw I don't think they were there exclusively to model like the Sennheiser girls. World of Tanks had a pretty large presence there and their girls appeared to be acting as proper booth assistants dressed in-character.
          Both booths seemed relatively professional about it. I wasn't too interested in either booth, but from what I saw they weren't the 'round up some strippers' type booths that really drag an exhibition down.

          I'll give the Sennheiser girls credit though, they kept themselves together in that heat in what looks like pretty thick pants. I would have just been a sweaty mess, and not the sexy type of sweaty mess. =P

            HEat? I'm going to PAX this time, what kinda heat we talking about?

              I wouldn't worry about it too much now they're in the Exhibition Center. That place is pretty comfortable, and right across the road from Crown which has some nice places to dodge the heat or cold (even if as a casino it sucks). I like the Showgrounds but I think the new location will be much better as it's right near the center of Melbourne.
              Southern Cross Station is just across the river, tram lines run right past the Exhibition Center, Crown Casino always has taxis (I think they're on both sides of the road so you don't even have to cross the street), Flinders St is a little further down. Even if it was disgustingly hot or cold outside you shouldn't have to deal with it, especially if you're staying in the city. Even in the stinking heat Melbourne can be quite nice. Melbourne at night after a hot day can be amazing.

              Oh, but no matter how hot it gets don't swim in the Yarra River. It's gross.

              Last edited 16/01/14 4:23 pm

                Alright. So do you think long pants and jacket would be sweaty? The body heat from the crowds would be intense.

                  I wore a new jacket that was thicker than I realised on the first day and really regretted it. I'd say long pants and a shirt should be fine, with a jumper or light jacket if you want to go out late at night. However the thing about Melbourne weather is you can't trust it. We're sitting in a spot where a breeze coming up can make a sunny day freezing or a little sunshine can melt you where you stand. So make sure you check the forecast before you head over and if you've got the room bring some backup clothes.
                  Whatever you want to wear should be fine once you hit the Exhibition Center, but having the ability to go a step up or down from what you're wearing when you leave the hotel room is probably the way to go. If you're from Tasmania just assume it's going to be what you consider stinking hot and if you're from NT, WA or Queensland it'll probably be what you consider ice cold.

            Erhm, if I remember right, pax was freezing. It was in the middle of Melbourne's winter and it didn't stop raining.
            Also, the world of tanks girls had actually played the game. The sennheiser girls were there to sell headphones only. I tried to ask someone something at the booth and was ignored because I have boobs.
            Oh yeah and I was dressed as Elizabeth so I would know if it was hot or not

              Weird. I remember showers a few times but I also remember it being hot in the rain. After the first day I decided I'd give wearing a costume a shot next time and it was hot enough that when I made that decision I also added a note to myself to ensure that whatever character I picked had a variant costume that was nice and breezy. I really need to get to work on that...

                If you were wearing a helmet or some kind of covered costume, it makes sense but I was freezing as Elizabeth. So much I was shivering if I was outside.
                The best thing to do is make it so that the parts of the costume can be removed, or have a lot of ventilation.

      There was and when the organisers found out what the girls were wearing originally, the girls were told they have to wear longer skirts and stockings because their outfits violated the "no booth babes" rule.

    You can say it's unfair if there's evidence to the contrary, otherwise it's seemingly educated speculation. I think it's generalising about as much as Kotaku does on CoD players, young male gamers and critical internet posts and comments. I would much rather have grannies talk to me than some girl who assumes i think she's the most attractive person in the world to me. The use of booth babes assumes all men are not only attracted to females but also only one particular image of female. The fact that i see anyone going up and taking pictures with girls in cop costumes at pax is somewhat disheartening. I mean, they aren't even dressed like Lara Croft or Chell or anything. Just generic sex cops. Seems pretty lazy on the part of the promoter and obviously telling about why they're there.

    I can't remember who they were with at PAX, i think it may have been for headsets or something but they stuck out like a sore, trashy thumb since no one else had them. (World of tanks had a few as well, only a bit more appropriately themed) I don't mind having actors in costumes, even if they are kind of skimpy, i would just rather they're relevant, creative and not based on sex. Sex can sell, sex can be interesting but not if you got all your ideas from FHM.

    Last edited 16/01/14 12:47 pm

    When I read the article I thought it meant that they literally didn't work, that they didn't have jobs.

    Insert a Nicholas Cage "you don't say" here.

    I like woman and i like games but both #Happyfordays

    I feel like our culture and industry really need to just grow up sometimes, I mean i love the Penny Arcade guys but why try and change companies stance on this. The end of the day "Sex sells!"

    Those girls at PAX actually really knew about the product they were selling (One of them told me mate not to buy them there as they were heaps cheaper at at retailer)

    I agree with the theory but having grannies sort of ruins the experiment. In that setting they're oddities and that alone can draw a crowd.


      While I'm not a fan of booth babes in general, I'd love to see a repeat of this experiment that more closely followed a proper scientific methodology.

    Ah, that's going to be a shame if companies twig to this and stop using booth babes. I mean... I've known they certainly haven't worked on me, but they were nice to look at all the same. It's always sad when something pretty goes away.

      Just put photos of me up everywhere, that'll be almost as good

        ...Points for ballsiness ultimately won out. You scraped in on that upvote young man.

          I could always feature balls in the photos but then they'd be nsfw.

          Well not suitable for people with vision really...

    all booth babes no matter what really gets to me. if you need fake half naked women to sell your product. there is something wrong with said product. its pretentious, and so 1980's.

    Boxing/mma is the worst!

    At PAX AUS 2013, the worst was actually on Friday and I believe the PAX guys asked the exhibitors to tone it down and as such it was better on Saturday and Sunday.
    The worst one (which I wont name specifically) had girls wearing racing suits pulled down to their waists wearing a bikini top just on top. Don't get me wrong- they were super hot and that was totally cool. (they zipped up the tops on Sat and Sun). The issue- was the pantomime that went with it...
    They would queue up a game for the mark who was sitting in a racing chair and sit by like a doting, compliant girlfriend, even comment on how well they were doing. It wasn't even partially subtle.

    I am not a prude, I'm down with hot models flaunting their superior genetics, I just prefer to see them at sexpo rather than gaming conf for families.

    I can't say how applicable this is for gaming trade shows, but I know for IT industry trade shows my strategy for checking booths was always to wander through, look for the products that fill some need of our company, then look for somebody at each booth that looked like they might know what they were talking about.

    Booth babes just cluttered up the space. They usually wouldn't know anything about the product (one presumes) so anyone talking to them isn't necessarily interested in the product.

    It happens that I *am* a socially awkward geek who finds the company of gorgeous women makes me nervous rather than being a positive experience. As such, my experiences may be unduly negative. However, to me it seems they can only be a distraction. The only way they cold generate a real lead is if a marginal lead stops to talk to the babe and can be passed off to a sales guy. That seems pretty unlikely.

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