When I first started in PR in the 1990s, the technology industry was still in its infancy. It was (and still is) an exciting time. New innovations changed the market on a daily basis, and I’d like to think that B2B technology PR and marketing has grown and developed with it. The current level of sophistication in B2B and B2C technology PR is unparalleled and certainly unrecognisable to how it was 20 years ago.
I guess this was why I was a little surprised (and offended) as I sat down this morning to read an industry-leading technology comms channel magazine and was greeted by an advert that lacked any kind of sophistication. The advert is for a well known telephony company who will remain nameless (but is named after a two-player strategy board game that features a king and queen 😉 and showed a naked woman (thankfully from the back) wearing nothing but a Santa hat and skirt that didn’t leave much to the imagination. Oh and she might have had boots on but I didn’t notice. Nor did I notice what the advert was for.
20 years ago the B2B channel technology market was often likened to the second hand car trade – it was a boys network and yes, channel magazines often featured half naked women. However, the tech market grew up and so did B2B PR and marketing, it appears however that the channel didn’t.
Now I’ve got nothing against the naked female form – I have one myself, although it’s currently fully dressed as is appropriate attire for a day in the office – my issue lies with the lack of marketing sophistication shown by the vendor. And of course the appropriateness of using sex to sell technology.
My disappointment aside the advert also failed to do its job since I can’t recall what it was advertising. I only registered the company name because I was surprised at the content.
I do, of course, realise that we’ve been using sex to sell stuff for as long as there’s been an advertising industry, but does it have a place in one of the world’s newest industries? What do you think? Am I’m over or under reacting?
Claire Lamb is a consultant at Skout. She’s worked in technology PR for 20 years and has survived more bubbles than Michael Jackson.