“Can I film you saying happy birthday for a friend in France?” asked the guy in the conference. “Sure” I replied; after all what’s the harm in my face being sent across the world to wish a happy birthday. But as the guy took a few big steps backwards and aimed his camera phone slightly lower, it made me cringe inside (whilst simultaneously tugging down my dress). I had signed up to promote a company and I was aware it included wearing rather big heels and a very tiny dress, but I was starting to feel like a dolled up puppet.
According to this American promo girl, getting hit on is part of the game. It’s going to happen, and we have to accept it. “If you become a promo gal or booth babe, you are presenting yourself as a sex object” she says. Whilst I do agree that it’s going to happen, especially when we’re asked to slip – or is it squeeze – into a second spandex skin with the brand name written across our butts, I also firmly believe promo staff can change this image.
Just like air stewardesses used to be picked for their looks but now must demonstrate a variety of skills, the same is also happening for promotional staff. Experiential marketing is about a customer’s experience with you and it’s not just about making them feel good via a little flirt; there are so many other channels through which to engage. By demonstrating, informing, asking questions and yes, having a laugh – without the sleaze.
Agencies are catching on to this and offering ‘more than just beautiful staff’, whilst also making an effort to find our more about you as a person. They want to know what you studied, your talents, interests, and hobbies to be able to present you as a person, not just a picture. By doing so, the lucky folk who get to take part in your event don’t remember you as just a pretty girl – or guy – who was trying to sell a piece of kit. Instead, they have a genuine experience and form a memory, still associated with the brand, of a person who intrigued them with their knowledge, smiles, and sense of fun.