December 04, 2003
The Gutter of Geek Marketing
Robin Hunicke writes a little bit about women in geek advertising.
I actually find this sort of use of sex and portrayal of women in geek culture (or at least in the relevant geek subcultures: gaming, for example) to be very irritating, and one of the culture's least attractive qualities. It doesn't help that it's so ridiculously crude. I think the typical low rider magazine with ubiquitous bikini girls may be more subtle.
At last year's CES I was proud that the company I work for, Evolution, did not hire booth babes and didn't try to put female employees up front. Which was in stark contrast to much of the rest of the convention floor. (And E3 is on a whole other level of retardedness. Even the U.S. Army brought in some special forces for photo ops.)
Of course this isn't all that different from marketing tactics in other domains. I think what gets to me is that (i) it's particularly crude, (ii) it's in an area that usually prides itself on quality of content rather than presentation and (iii) there is a stereotype of geeks being salivating pimply losers hoping that a pretty girl will talk to them and you'd think that they might stay away from marketing images that tend to reinforce that idea.
Posted by jjwiseman at December 04, 2003 09:42 AM
As long as fools and money can still be easily parted, these carnival tricks will continue to pay off.
Yeah, that's really horrible. But you should post some more pictures just to drive the point home.
"(iii) there is a stereotype of geeks being salivating pimply losers hoping that a pretty girl will talk to them and you'd think that they might stay away from marketing images that tend to reinforce that idea."
"Reinforcing that idea" may be just what the market droids are after. If fool geeks can be induced to fork over their cash at the sight of some skin, then it is in the best monetary interest of the suits to get them hooked to that tactic.
It's easier to get a perfect-ten model to take off her clothes in front of a camera than it is to come up with an effective advertising angle which only aims at the intellect.
I don't think it's just geek men - I think almost all advertising implies men are slobering troglodytes. Maybe they're right - but I, like you, am immediately turned off (ironic) that somebody thinks that I can be that easily manipulated into buying their crap.
You mean all geeks AREN'T pimply, slobbering losers who are just hoping a girl will talk to them?
Apparently it's worse than that, according to a study linked to by Ars Technica today. Quoting what Ars quoted:
Wilson and Daly found that male students shown the pictures of averagely attractive women showed exponential discounting of the future value of the reward. This indicated that they had made a rational decision. When male students were shown pictures of pretty women, they discounted the future value of the reward in an "irrational" way - they would opt for the smaller amount of money available the next day rather than wait for a much bigger reward. Women, by contrast, made equally rational decisions whether they had been shown pictures of handsome men or those of average attractiveness.