There was something missing at a recent trade show we attended. For the first time there was something slightly off kilter, a change in the tides. Maybe you noticed it too…….there was not a dollybird to be seen. Maybe that’s the wrong terminology but there were no scantily clad women of higher-than-average-attractiveness handing out jute bags, the recipient none-the-wiser of what product they were marketing. On the flip side there was a scantily clad man! Has the world gone mad? Have we as a society realised that using dollybirds is a thing of the past? Is it ok to have male dollybirds (not sure what they should be called)?
Trade shows can be a great way to increase brand awareness or launch a new product that you are bringing to market. For some large companies it’s just what they always do. They already have the brand awareness; their products are well established in the market so they just go larger. Bigger stands, lots of adverts, maybe some fun freebies or novelty items on show and eye candy to draw people in. Maybe these things work but maybe they also belittle the products they are selling. Do they also undermine their customer’s integrity?
There have undoubtedly been advances in gender equality in construction but it still remains a male dominated industry. You can see the exchanged glances when a dollybird walks past, they do seem to do the trick at getting attention for the brand but does it make a positive impact? I’m sure it is often seen as a bit of harmless fun, but for women in the industry trying to be taken seriously it can be rather disappointing.
What does it mean, then, that this year there has been an absence of women in the dollybird role but sightings of their male counterpart? Does that make it even? Does it make it ok? Should we be relying on eye-candy in any form? Definitely have fun at a trade show, bring enthusiasm about your products, talk to people, get to know your customers, listen to the feedback, the good and the bad, get yourself a good stand, one that you have thought through carefully that you can be proud of.
It will be interesting to see if future trade shows go the same way or whether this was a one-off, maybe a batch of contaminated red lipstick that took out the entire population of trade-show dollybirds or a case of dollybird-flu. Or maybe they are a thing of the past, gone for good and just another thing we’ll all reminisce about in a decade or so.
By Claire Laverty