By on June 27, 2010

Auto show season might be over, but the marketing event season is in full swing. At concerts, state fairs, sporting goods stores, hotels, golf tournaments, baseball games, food and wine festivals, gay pride festivals, dog parks, any kind of place where a target demographic might gather, you will find a car company showing off the vehicle they think target demographic should be driving.

It could be a ride and drive, it could be a static display ,or it could be an entire day’s experience like AMG Challenge, Chevy Rev It Up or Taste of Lexus (although big events like these seem to have been put on pause with the onslaught of the recession). Regardless of the level of formality or the amount of activity, all have one thing in common: People like me are working there.

See, we booth babes are no one-trick ponies. Many product specialists work special events in the auto show off-season in a parking lot near you. Not surprisingly, people are just as ill-behaved in their local parks as they are on the auto show floor.

Want to have a great experience at an automotive marketing event? Here are some handy tips:

1. All auto show rules apply. That means no hitting on me, no photos without permission, no dirty/racist jokes, and no pooping in our tent.

2. Leave your sense of entitlement at home. How nice for you that you’re CEO of a venture capital firm that could buy and sell this whole operation with a single phone call. You still have to wait in line to drive this car like everyone else.

3. Please be respectful of the program rules I am delicately trying to impart; i.e. prizes and giveaways. “One per household” means exactly that. Trying to use your dog’s name on a registration form to get a free tote bag is utterly transparent – I know your brother isn’t “right around the corner” and I certainly know his name isn’t Sparky. A better tactic is to come back at the end of the day and ask nicely if you can have any leftover schwag.

4. Think I’m going to let you drive like a maniac? Think again. I’ve been trained by a pro driver on how to take over and stop a vehicle in motion from the right seat. Personally, I would rather tell you in my stern “Angry Teacher” voice to pull the car over immediately and get out. I won’t hesitate to do either if I feel like I’m in danger.

5. Don’t even think about trying any funny business while we’re alone in the car. From the second the doors shut I have my personal cell phone in hand with an emergency number pre-dialed and ready to send. We have your full name, address and drivers license info back at the main event tent. More importantly, I know how to hurt you pretty badly. The people waiting for me know exactly how long our route takes and will come looking if I’m more than a few minutes late. Try messing with me. I dare you.

6. As much as I wish the opposite were true, I am not Supreme Lawmaker of the Known Universe. That means I must follow existing laws to the letter and insist you do the same, for both liability and safety reasons. Yes you do have to wear your seatbelt, yes your child does have to be in a car seat, no you cannot answer your cell phone (actually I won’t let you do this regardless of the laws in your state), and no you can’t drive if you don’t have your license with you.

7. If you think for a second I’m going to let you drive this car after you came into the tent with a beer in your hand, you’re even more drunk than I thought you were. Not gonna happen.

8. It is even more important to follow scrupulous personal hygiene habits during the hot summer months. Shower twice if you have to. If I smelled the way some of you do there’s no way you’d get into a car with me.

9. I’m not asking for your social security number, your first born child or a DNA sample. I’m asking for your email address, and if you want the stupid branded hat, then you have to trade your information for it. Unsubscribing from an email list takes approximately half a second. It won’t kill you, I promise.

10. If you’re a current owner, show us your keys – we often have special goodies set aside just for you as a thanks for your loyalty!

See you on the road!

The Booth Babe is an anonymous auto show model who dishes about what really goes on behind the scenes. Read her blog at http://doyoucomewiththecar.blogspot.com. And if you treat her nicely, read her each Sunday at Thetruthaboutcars.com

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41 Comments on “The Booth Babe Chronicles: The Dog Days Of Summer...”


  • avatar
    european

    “you beez some very angry woman”!!!!!!!! :-D

    i’ve met alot of persons like you. you wanna change the whole
    world so it reflects YOUR wishes. wont happen. ever. sorry.
    try to accept ppl as they are. dont try to change them.
    you wont be happy even if all were polite/nice/shaved/perfumed.
    you’d hate the perfume. or biatch about, why they all got perfume
    at all. its impossible to please ppl like you. just give it a rest. if one flirts with you,
    its just for killing time, having some fun. dont take it so freaking serious.

    i have more respect for ppl that are smelly than you. why? coz they accept what they are,
    they are as they are, but you… damn, noone forcing you to do the job you do.
    just quit if you dont like it. coz you know why? NOONE WILL CHANGE FOR THE SAKE OF PEASING YOU.

  • avatar
    niky

    @european: I take it you object to people telling you not to poop on the floor?

    -

    No hooning on the test-drive? Isn’t that what those things are all about? I’m getting spoiled by salespeople letting me have my way at media events. Like media people actually drive any better than the general public (I personally know of one guy who’s rolled at least two vehicles… money changes hands in secret bets right before he gets in a car at the track).

    Actually, given how some people drive, it should be standard, period. And switchable by remote control.

    I think all cars should come with the BMW stop-it device… at least for shows. Pull up on the handbrake and the transmission disengages and the brakes bring you to a quick (but safe) stop.

  • avatar

    That sounds like one extremely stressful job, having to worry about all that stuff.

    Are there differences in the human behavior you encounter in different parts of the country (if you are not always in the same place)? I drove a smart recently at one of these events in Cambridge, Mass, and I’d like to think you wouldn’t have had any of these troubles here (we have very annoying PC, though). Or are people the same all over, lord help us? (the “booth babes” at the smart event were men.)

    • 0 avatar

      Different types of events and different parts of cities do draw different types of crowds, and companies try to cater to those specific demographics. You’ll find weirdos anywhere, though. I would imagine the people who rep Smart have to deal with a lot of “smart”-ass ignorant comments about the vehicle itself, which must get old very quickly.

  • avatar
    shaker

    I’ve often wondered how bad Baby Ruth sales had to be for the company to allow their candy bar to stand-in for a turd in the Caddyshack pool scene.

  • avatar
    dwford

    As someone who works on the other end of the car business, these same entitled doofuses come to “buy” cars also. You’re 21 but look like your 16 and you want to drive the Genesis 3.8? Prove you can afford it first, kid. You look and talk like ghetto trash? Credit check, please. I am not wasting 2 hours driving cars to find out that your credit is a 432. You rolled in in your Mercedes and want to see about leasing a Genesis? I’ll slowly fade to the restroom. Someone else can have the pleasure of your company. After working with the general public for more than 20 years, I can say, the stereotypes are real.

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      “You rolled in in your Mercedes and want to see about leasing a Genesis?”

      I understand the other lines, but not that one. It seems like many a Mercedes owner is exactly in the target demographic for a Genesis leases, especially in a time when many people are looking to be a bit more careful with their money without going for full deprivation. A friendly recently bought a Mazdaspeed 3 when the lease on her Audi was up. Would you have ignored her?

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      Just working from experience. The typical luxury car driver that comes to look at a Genesis is either a) just confirming that the car isn’t good enough, so they can justify continuing to lease their current brand, b) just want to shoot the shit about cars in a “I’ve heard nice things about it, but I would never buy one” kind of way, or c) wants to downsize. The downsizer, even though the low MSRP attracts them, will not pay even close to that, they want to grind down to the last nickel. They expect white glove treatment for cheap, and tend to trash you on the survey because the showroom isn’t what they are used to and you didn’t suck up enough.

      I have sold a few Genesis, and it has been a difficult experience each time. I’ll take an Elantra buyer any day. I will still sell plenty of cars each month passing up the Genesis buyers.

    • 0 avatar
      Robstar

      Completely wrong. A few years ago I was making a good chunk of change and went into a dealership with a just-shy-of-800 credit rating in jeans & a t-shirt. I was looking to test drive an lancer evo of some sort. I had up to a 50% down payment ready on a new evo. I went right to the salesman and asked for more info on the car & if I could get a test drive. He told me NOBODY gets to test drive an EVO no matter what. Not the RS, MR, or anything. Not only that, but the sales man wouldn’t sit down with me to check my credit score to see that I was serious!

      I complained to Mitsubishi directly with no response, ever.

      A few weeks later I bought an STi after test driving an WRX where the salesman tossed me the keys and told me to bring it back within 30 minutes.

      A few years later I had some follow-ups from the evo dealership (I had put my info in online before going there, but didn’t make an appointment) and I told them I was looking for a new car but would never ever consider another Mitsubishi because of my previous experience. I told them quite frankly to take me off their mailing list and never to contact me again. At least they got that right!

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @dwford: +1

      We had a term for those kinds of people on the lot that I used to sell on, they were called bogues: short/slang for bogus.

      Bogus addresses, credit scores and sometimes names, too. Everyone had a story, a line, an excuse. It has kept me out of a direct-to-the-public position for nearly 20 years.

      I had the same deal. If you looked like you couldn’t afford it, it was highly unlikely you would be driving it anywhere with me in the car. No, it was never racially motivated; I don’t care what color you are, the money is all green. But there were high financial disincentives for me to let someone waste my time and possibly ruin inventory so they could get their jollies…

      You can tell the folks on this board who have had direct, personal experience with selling expensive durable goods to the public. It appears there are very few here.

      As for the booth babe, I don’t blame the lady for not wanting to put up with people’s bogus crap, and especially in her position, there’s little chance she would really get anything of value out of the deal.

  • avatar
    mcs

    How nice for you that you’re CEO of a venture capital firm

    Uhh, when I’ve worked these sorts of things (non-autmotive in my case), these are the people we’re looking for. One advantage I have in coming from the business world is that I know who many of them are. For us, the average person might drop 4 figures. These guys are good for 6 figures and more likely to actually spend the money. In our situation, they do get pulled aside and get special treatment. I even keep special swag to slip into their bags.

    Trying to use your dog’s name on a registration form to get a free tote bag is utterly transparent

    I’ve never really had a problem with that. Especially when the hamster has the cell phone number and the dog has the number of the vacation home. Our telemarketing people appreciate the extra numbers for the CRM database. Besides, we leave it up the to marketing interns to sort those things out. The only thing that I care about is that if you are not interested in a particular product, don’t check the box that says you are interested in that product. Otherwise, we like people to have a positive experience and won’t say anything if they try to break the rules. But, remember that if your Golden Retriever happens to win those game tickets, he’ll need a photo id to pick them up at the ticket counter.

    • 0 avatar

      The problem is at some of these events everyone is in that income bracket – that’s the equalizer. Being a jerk won’t get you anywhere faster, is my point. If you want special treatment, drop the entitlement act. You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

  • avatar
    Jack Baruth

    No hitting on you? Forget it then. I’m not coming all the way to the AMG Challenge just to win another $6500 watch.

  • avatar
    obbop

    I promise to meet every want and desire you proclaim and will do so by not even coming close to you or your product(s)

  • avatar
    wmba

    I have no idea why you write this stuff.

    The pieces appear to be written as diatribes against the usual spotty youths who go to car shows without a clue in their heads.

    Between texting and laughing at their own jokes, these people are only out for a spot of entertainment.

    They also cannot read. None of them will ever read your rants.

    So, since this is a true car site, why not write some adult-level essays and cater to the audience you actually have, which is an informed one.

    I don’t come to TTAC to have some rancorous person basically, as the Brits would say, slag me off.

    You’ve put me off attending car shows in the future, on the off chance I should run into you. It would spoil my day.

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      There is a heavy dose of preaching to the choir in this piece. Also, don’t be too shocked if using sexual titillation to get people to visit your employer’s booth results in some boorish guys hitting on you.

    • 0 avatar

      If everyone who claimed to be as well-behaved in public as you actually were I would have no material. The fact of the matter is that it’s less often the “spotty youths” who act out in the ways I describe, and more often the people who are old enough to know better. Reading something like this should bother anyone who isn’t guilty of the behaviors I describe. The nicer and more polite people are to each other, the easier it is to get around in this world. I think we all could use a reminder of that.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      If the “old enough to know better” argument was applied uniformly to the automotive buying decision experience, then woe to the luxury and sports car makers, as well as to the marketers that use sex appeal to draw the customer in for the kill…

      I think, when an industry prays that triggering the “too young to resist” will result in incremental sales turnover, one has to both expect these behaviours, and just deal with them.

      Wingeing about it here won’t change the reality of the situation.

      From my perspective, these pieces would be far more satisfying and educational if they sounded less like woe-is-me and more like guess what new anecdote I have from my latest encounter with a doofus…

    • 0 avatar
      european

      The Booth BabeJune 27th, 2010 at 12:38 pm

      “Reading something like this should bother anyone who isn’t guilty of the behaviors I describe.”

      oh man, you trully are delusional…

      i and anyone else should feel bothered coz you got
      yourself a job you dont enjoy?

      “hey look guys, i think im smart, i have an opinion, now
      cater me!”

    • 0 avatar

      I mistyped something – it should have read “Reading something like this should NOT bother anyone who isn’t guilty of the behaviors I describe.”

      And by the way, I love my job. I just don’t love jerks. Thankfully the nice people like (most of) you guys far outnumber the jerks, but the jerks have to be called out on their behavior.

  • avatar
    kurtamaxxguy

    Wrt booth babe’s comments:

    Good to know how auto shows look from the other side…thanks!

    IMHO: those shows matters for how many drives I can get under my belt to really understand what “X” vehicle is about and if it’s a good “companion” for 4- 6 years I’m with it. The “swag”‘s mostly irrelevant advertising trinkets, and as for “hitting” on opposite sex, who needs _that_ distraction (perhaps some marketing folks see that as an advantage – if partly distracted by wiggling derrieres, I might overlook weaknesses in whatever vehicle I’m studying. )!

    Meanwhile, the happy hoons at auto test drives happy to trash a vehicle only manage to piss off the show attendants and the other drivers who, should said hoon wreck said vehicle, loose their chances to drive it.

  • avatar
    tbp0701

    Part of your job is getting in the car with random people, especially the types of random people who always feel they need to impress with titles and brag about executive power? Yeah, I’d suck at that. Good thing I’m not all that attractive.

  • avatar
    danman75

    “All auto show rules apply. That means no hitting on me.”

    Really, Booth Babe??? I seem to recall you referring to Mike Rowe (Ford pitchman and host of Dirty Jobs) as your “baby daddy” in one of your earlier articles. Are you saying you would be offended if Mr. Rowe made a pass at you during these car events? Now, I’m not excusing the actions of those sleeze bags who cross the line. But when you’re a booth babe at these car events, you should expect men to hit on you, even those who are not as handsome as Mr. Rowe.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve seen Anthony Sullivan, the TV pitchman, hyping Kias at an auto show media preview, but I’ve never seen Mike Howe working a show for Ford. Come to think of it, I’m surprised that Ford hasn’t used him that way. Entertainers aren’t exactly uncommon at car shows – Seal and Bryan Adams have worked for Audi in recent years.

  • avatar

    Auto show season might be over,

    Well, maybe the formal events like the big LA/NAIAS/Chicago/NYC circuit and the smaller ones like DC and Atlanta. Those all take place from Nov to May, reflecting the historical fact that the model year starts in September.

    In the spring and summer though, are hundreds of car events. Races, concourses, Goodguys and Hot Import Nights events, plus large cruise events like the Woodward Dream Cruise. Based on my experience, many of the larger events have some kind of PR presence from automakers. Speed is running the Barrett-Jackson auction in Orange County CA right now and I’m sure that there are at least a couple of displays from OEM automakers in the midway.

    As far as swag’s concerned, I have no problem asking a PR person if I can have another if they have enough to go around. At last year’s Meadow Brook Concours, when I noticed that the Lufthansa hospitality tent had leftover goodie bags, I walked over and asked one of the nice ladies if I could come back at the end of the day and get one if they had extras. The freebie was a nice picnic blanket.

    I find that I’m usually successful when I ask for swag. I guess being polite, friendly and openly acknowledging that you’re asking for a favor works better than acting entitled.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    “I guess being polite, friendly and openly acknowledging that you’re asking for a favor works better than acting entitled.”

    If there is one thing I hope my kids learn this year, that would be it.

  • avatar

    What does hoon mean? I guess I’m not too swift, but i have no idea what it means.It seems to be a noun and an adjective. Anybody care to enlighten me?

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    I really have no idea who you might be addressing. I have no idea these events exist. I must be in the wrong demographic.

  • avatar

    Much appreciated Robert.

  • avatar
    porschespeed

    At least the “no pooping in the tent” is a reasonable request.

    The rest of it is just more childish whining about the inherent realities of the job.

    No hitting on you? Uh, yeah. Lemme give you the intro to the skin-trade the first photog who did your port at 14 should have – this business is about nothing but sex. Men will hit on you. Figure out how to deflect unwanted attention or get a new job.

    Gratuitous recreational nookie is part and parcel of the industry, and frankly, the way of the 99th percentile. You do not have to participate, but plenty of your co-workers do.

    Ergo, this is like listening to a comedian complain about hecklers. Heat, kitchen, meh.

    The rest of this latest manifesto of not appreciating how one’s bread is buttered should really get you fired and blackballed. You are very lucky not to work for me.

    Your employer wants you to give special treatment to the guy who can easily buy your life on his Centurion card. He’ll spend more on an important business dinner than you make all year.

    BTW, part of being a good host is being gracious. When I go to SEMA or PRI, if I want 20 of any bit-o-schwag to give to my employees, nobody hesitates for a second. Ever.

    Oh yeah, it isn’t your car. Your boss’s boss will be quite happy to go out with me with that M-Plate whip, do a bunch of drugs, pickup a coupla strippers/models/productspecialists, and see how fast we can go on the way to the hotel. If we trash it, it’s a good story.

    Get thee to a nunnery…

  • avatar
    iNeon

    Jump off the cross already.

  • avatar
    sfdennis1

    As a gay man, this isn’t my fight, but here goes anyway…

    Really suprised at the venom and misogyny directed at booth babe…she has a job, and part of the job is b*llshit and annoying…just like every one of you…she has just as much right to complain as any of you….yeah, no one here ever b*tches about their job either…don’t like it, click on another article or link.

    Methinks some straight men here are threatened by any opininated woman…either that, or you show yourself to be one of the idiots she describes (past or present) and don’t like to be called out on your crap.

    If you need a goofy-smiled overly accomodating bimbette, get your fix at Hooters, alright? (They work for tips, ya know, and I’ve heard they’ll put up with all sorts of crap from leering buffoons as long as enough green is flowing.) Booth babes aren’t Hooters waitresses, comprende?

    • 0 avatar
      thebeelzebubtrigger

      Spot on, sfdennis1! Much as I enjoy reading the Booth Babe Chronicles, the inevitable disparaging comments from immature men who cannot tolerate an opinionated woman speaking up are incredibly tiresome. Guys, if you can’t grow beyond that sort of infantile sexism, at least become sufficiently self-aware to avoid embarrassing yourselves by giving voice to it.

    • 0 avatar
      porschespeed

      SfDennis1,

      Presuming you live in SF, I’d offer this…

      Let’s pretend you are the the doorman/host at P/X.

      Is your job to –
      A: Be polite and friendly to the guest who funds your salary.
      B: Be an a-hole to everyone who tries to drag you into the party.

      Not at all implying you should/must get involved in a slave auction, just that the job entails playing the game.

  • avatar
    Kamaka

    Booth Babe thank you for your contributions. I enjoy reading your chronicles.

    Being in various customer service businesses I can sympathize. After working in a free community health clinic I loved the show Parking Wars, because you could see how irrational some people can get. Don’t even get me started on when things are free, some people are worse than if they were charged.

    There is a fine line between funny and offensive, and it’s often crossed. I enjoy a good rant once in a while.

  • avatar
    Robstar

    The stories from the booth babe remind me EXACTLY why I don’t like dealing with people and have moved from a large city to a small town.

    To each his own.

    However, I agree with an above poster that the articles would come off better if they had more humor & less complaining.

    Just a thought!

  • avatar

    The real tragedy is that these points even have to be made..but they do.

  • avatar
    50merc

    C’mon, guys, give the lady some respect. Anybody who has to work with the public knows there are creeps and slobs out there. If you identify with them, some etiquette lessons may be in order.

    Whether it’s deliberate or unintentional, some people are just nuisances. One sign of it is the number of shopping carts that customers leave strewn around a parking lot, even where the store provides plenty of convenient racks. Result: cars bumping into carts, dodg-em games, unusable parking spaces. My impression is that Wal-Mart customers are about 50% more likely to cart-litter than are Target shoppers. If I could get grant funding, I’d do a study….

  • avatar
    shortthrowsixspeed

    so young. so full of anger. . .

    some of these i’m ok with, like beer = no keys. others tell me you just don’t like people very much. it reminds me a lot of when i waited tables in college and would listen to the “old” servers talk about customers. It was like they hated the world.


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