LAS VEGAS, Nevada (Autodesk University) - In a trade show, vendors use many gimmicks to attract attention. One method is giving away freebies. Autodesk University 2007 was no exception as attendees filled swag bags with pens, yo-yos that lit up, penknives, even binoculars. Vendors also pay top dollar for premium locations such as up front-and-center booths.
That wasn't enough for CADzation, though. They upped the ante by hiring a professional model.
In the male dominated CAD and engineering world awash with the plain and practical, the stunning blonde in a little black dress shone like a bright light. Her presence created a sensation and a crowd was always in presence. Attendees sought excuses to mill about or linger at the CADzation booth.
Ms Nyssa Walker greets Autodesk University attendees in front of CADzation's booth (click for larger picture)
I can't blame companies for trying to draw attention to themselves but the hiring of professional models harkens back to Las Vegas' wilder days. CAD insiders may remember Comdex, now defunct, which at its height was the largest computer event in the US. With as many as 100,000 visitors, it made Autodesk University (7,500 visitors this year) pale by comparison. As you might imagine, competition for attention was intense amidst a carnival atmosphere complete with hawkers and entertainers. Pretty young things from the sales and marketing departments were propped up at booths as companies chose looks and charm over knowledge and experience. Many companies would hire professional models and actresses. We called them booth bunnies -- and you could tell where they were by sighting down the isle for the telltale crowds.
But I wondered how and if CADzation was benefiting from the attention their model was getting. Within the crowd, men nudged each other like little boys. They feigned interest in CADzation, fingered brochures, lingered -- all the time stealing glances in her direction. No direct eye contact. They stayed close -- but not too close.
Where had I seen this behaviour? Oh, yes...it was in my past. We CAD guys have never been able to escape the nervous, awkward geeks we once were. We are comfortable behind our computers and calculators. Like everyone else, we see beauty in movies and magazines, but God help us if such a being descends into our midst. We dare not look her in the eye. We are not worthy.
To tell you the truth, with all that going on, I forgot to ask if CADzation was introducing anything new at the show.