Sex Won't Sell at InfoSec, Organizers Vow

Organizers of Europe's largest IT security event implemented a dress code crackdown following a storm of negative feedback relating to the attire – or lack thereof – worn by exhibitors at last year's show.

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 Editor’s note:  As part of our special editorial partnership, Channelnomics is publishing this recent article from CRN in the UK.

[caption id="attachment_24644" align="alignright" width="300"]Booth Babes Photo by Pop Culture Geek. Some rights reserved.[/caption]

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A week after CES officials revised 2014 guidelines to discourage the use of so-called “booth babes,” organizers of this year’s InfoSec event in London issued an outright ban on "inappropriate, revealing and offensive" attire at the show, CRN UK has learned.

Organizers have implemented a dress code crackdown following a storm of negative feedback relating to the attire – or lack thereof – worn by exhibitors at last year's show, which bills itself as Europe's number-one IT security event.

Exhibition director Claire Sellick confirmed in a letter to exhibitors, seen by CRN UK, that its rules relating to the conduct of exhibitors have been tweaked for this year's InfoSec event, which takes place April 23 to 25 at London’s Earls Court.

"During and after the 2012 event, we experienced an unprecedented volume of negative feedback relating to the apparel (or lack of) worn by some staff on stands and in the aisles," Sellick wrote.

"The feedback came from visitors (your customers/target customers), exhibitors and the press during the event, on blogs and in news articles.

"I am sure you will agree that for such a professional industry this ‘focus' is an unnecessary distraction. In direct response to this we have taken the decision to amend our exhibition participation terms stating that all stand staff must be dressed in appropriate attire. Inappropriate, revealing and/or offensive apparel will not be permitted."

The clampdown comes in the wake of a similar move by U.S. consumer electronics show CES to discourage exhibitors from using so-called "booth babes" from next year – although organizers stopped short of an outright ban.

Tweaks to exhibitor rules at InfoSec, which last year drew in 7,000 vistitors on its peak day, include the new rule that "exhibitors and their representatives shall wear appropriate business wear".

Neither should they take part in any canvassing or leafleting, without the prior consent of the organizer. Petitioning, demonstrations, "objectionable behavior" and the wearing of "offensive apparel" have also been banned.

This week's CRN UK poll asks whether or not trade shows should ban scantily clad promo women from their stands and aisles, and the results so far are revealing. Sixty percent of the 160 voters to date said "absolutely not, live and let live", with just 24 percent saying exhibitors should wear only business or company-related attire.

However, InfoSec exhibitors we spoke to agreed that some have overstepped the mark in recent years.

Ian Kilpatrick, chairman of exhibitor Wick Hill, said: "One year there were girls wandering around in [corsets] and stockings – they would probably be arrested if they wore that outside the hall. For those who like that kind of thing there are lots of places they can go, should they wish to. I would not say that InfoSec is top of that list."

Adam King, field marketing manager UK and Ireland at security vendor WatchGuard, agreed that some of the "showgirls" employed in recent years had been "over the top".

According to organizers, InfoSec drew in 12,450 visitors last year, 19 percent up from 2011.

For more UK channel coverage from CRN, visit www.channelweb.co.uk

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