Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Do products such as a camera need a dose of sex appeal to sell? The prevalent marketing trend would have us believe so. Frederic Brown / AFP
Do products such as a camera need a dose of sex appeal to sell? The prevalent marketing trend would have us believe so. Frederic Brown / AFP

Great products sell themselves without the flash of flesh

Steve Jobs did not need attractive girls to sell billions of iPhones, iPads and iWhatevers. I mean, the man wore turtlenecks. A great product will sell itself.

It is coming up to that time of year when the world's technology manufacturers launch their latest, fastest, shiniest, life-changing, new products.

You would think with such promise and hyperbole, the gadgets would sell themselves. The merest glimpse of the charger socket should surely be enough to shift thousands of units. But it seems these gadgets are incapable of selling themselves. They need a PYT.

You know the sort I'm talking about. The Pretty Young Thing stands there in front of the gadget looking glamorous with her deceptively flawless skin - a patina made from layers of thick make-up that could only have been applied with a trowel.

Sometimes they dance about in revealing clothes. Sometimes they sit behind a desk or wear thick-rimmed glasses to give an impression of studiousness.

Whatever the shtick, they are just eye candy, there to greet customers with a smile and add sex appeal to the sale.

And it works. Well, it half works - they attract the men mostly.

"Technology can be very boring and for these guys this is as exciting as it gets," said one events manager at a recent launch for a new camera.

I disagree. Gadgets are sexy enough and do not need a manicured hand to sell them.

Steve Jobs did not need attractive girls to sell billions of iPhones, iPads and iWhatevers. I mean, the man wore turtlenecks.

The truth is, a great product will sell itself.

Fine, if it's an energy-saving, network switching subsystem for the telecoms industry that you're launching, bring a whole host of PYTs and parade them around the room if you want. This is the sort of product that needs a dose of sex appeal to sell.

But a laptop? A phone? A tablet computer? Please, put it away and preserve some modesty.

These women create an ambience equivalent to the cheesy 1970s car showroom with a bikini-clad blonde draped across a bonnet. So, what was the size of the engine? How quickly did it get to 60 miles per hour? You'll never know. You were too busy watching her slide off the car.

Some may argue that these ladies attract attention, that people will go over to talk to them and with great PR skills the girl will sell the product. As a habitué of too many tech launches to count, let me tell you otherwise.

Ask a PYT what other colours are available in the range, and she'll probably answer. Ask her what type of screen the device sports and you will invariably be met with an embarrassed smile as you are told to wait until she checks. And forget asking her about what Amoled stands for. (It is Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode, in case you were wondering. And no, I did not Google it, thank you very much).

Everyone has the right to choose their way in life, and if baring your legs in public and becoming as objectified as the product you are parading around pays your bills and makes you happy, then all the best. But there is something completely unnecessary to PYTs at consumer tech shows.

The notion that "sex sells" is regrettable anywhere in the world, but perhaps more so in the UAE. Rarely do you come across such a contrast. Muslim women in modest black abayas sit opposite a European blonde in a short skirt. It is an uncomfortable situation for everyone; and it seems utterly short-sighted and small-minded of organisers to deem it acceptable.

The devices that tech firms sell are sophisticated. The consumers they sell them too are even more so. It's time the marketing matched the product and the buyer.

thamid@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 The Greens, villas: Q1 no change. 3BR - Dh210-250,000. 4BR - Dh210-260,000. 5BR - Dh220-300,000. Q1 2013-Q1 2014 5% rise. Pawan Singh / The National

In pictures: Where Dubai rents have risen and fallen, Q1 2014

Find out how rental prices in the prime locations in Dubai have altered during the first three months of the year and the current rates you will pay according to data provided by Asteco.

 Above, the private pool of Ocean Heights' five-bedroom penthouse flat. Courtesy Christie’s International Real Estate

In pictures: Penthouse flat is height of Dubai luxury living

A five-bedroom penthouse in Ocean Heights in Dubai Marina is on sale for Dh25 million and comes with a private pool and an unparalleled view of Dubai.

 The cooling towers of the Temelin nuclear power plant near the Tyn nad Vltavou in Czech Republic. The country wants to continue expanding nuclear energy capacity despite cancelling a tender to build two new units. David W Cerny / Reuters

In pictures: Best business images for the week to April 17, 2014

Here are some of the best business images for the week to April 17, 2014.

 Three generations of the Hakimi family tend to their stall Crawford Market in Mumbai. Subhash Sharma for The National

In pictures: Shopper’s delight at Crawford Market in Mumbai

Crawford Market is an old British-style covered market dealing in just about every kind of fresh food and domestic animal imaginable. Later on renamed Mahatma Jotirao Phule, the market remains popular among locals and visitors by its old name, taken from Arthur Crawford who was the first municipal commissioner of the city.

 The Wind, Energy, Technology and Environment Exhibition takes place from April 14 to April 16. Above, the Dewa showroom during last year’s Wetex. Jaime Puebla / The National

April corporate and economic calendar for the UAE and overseas

From Cityscape to Wetex to stock-market holidays to nations reporting first-quarter GDP figures, here is our helpful calendar of April's business events in the UAE and internationally.

 Get the latest information on credit cards, bank accounts and loan products in the UAE. Mark Lennihan / AP Photo

Rates report: Latest on UAE loans, accounts and credit cards

Souqamal.com brings you the latest interest rates on banking products in the UAE.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National