Cheerleaders at CEDIA – an Attraction or an Insult?

What do you think about attracting your attendance with the cheerleader meet and greets? Would it work? Can you stand tall and tell the world that this is an event you are looking forward to?
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I have been honored again this year and have been chosen as a CEDIATweep. We Tweeps go around and praise all the goodness of the CEDIA show and what it has to offer. In exchange, CEDIA pays for our hotel room along with some other perks. Pretty good deal, eh?

For me, praising the CEDIA show is easy, for in I “grew up” there. During the early 2000s, each year that I attended I would pick a topic and take as many classes as I could in that field. One year was dedicated to project management, another was audio and home theater, and another was dedicated to finances and so on. Singing the praises of EXPO, as we used to call, has always come naturally; I wouldn’t be where I am today without CEDIA.

Fellow blogger John Sciacca asked all of us tweeps what we were looking most forward to this year (stay tuned to this site for that eloquent article), and this had me perusing the CEDIA website. There, as I looked under “special events,” I discovered three Dallas Cowboys cheerleader meet and greets. My excitement immediately sank because it felt like our industry was taking a step backward.

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Not a wallflower, I spoke out to some of my favorite CEDIA employees and then emailed CEDIA CEO Vin Bruno with my concerns.

Vin called me today and explained that he too has three girls, and he understood my stance. During an unofficial poll, it seems most agree that we are beyond ladies in tight clothing showing skin (at least as a public draw). One fellow comrade commented, “I was frankly a bit put off by that. OK, more than a bit. I found it very disappointing, unless they’re actually fully clothed, articulated androids with built-in Blu-ray players and laser projector lenses for eyes, planned as replacements for the cheerleaders in the future.”

This is the type of industry we are — geeky and funny. Sure, a beautiful lady might be an easy sell, but we have such better options for this crowd. Last year at InfoComm you could meet the “real” R2D2 — how cool is that!?!? That I’m willing to stand in line for. Meeting and greeting cheerleaders is a cop-out, and we are better than this.

This isn’t a new issue (another reason I feel CEDIA should know better). In 2014 InfoComm International’s executive director and CEO, David Labuskes, weighed in on the topic. In a blog post, Labuskes denounced the use of so-called booth babes, adding that the practice “creates an environment that is unwelcome for some, that perpetuates ‘old school thinking’ which should have been abandoned 75 years ago (frankly, it should have never existed), and one which diminishes the professionalism of our practice.”

Sister publication TWICE announced, “Let this year be known as the CES that put ‘booth babes’ on the back burner when it comes to the chief attention paid toward women at the show.”

If these trade shows can move forward, why would CEDIA take a step back? Vin assured me that as our fearless leader he wants CEDIA to be transparent. And it does seem the voice may be heard as I’m told the topic is under review.

So tell me, friends, how you feel about it. Let your thoughts be heard. What do you think about attracting your attendance with the cheerleader meet and greets? Would it work? Can you stand tall and tell the world that this is an event you are looking forward to? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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