“Selling sex, not specs” has been the mantra of the consumer electronics industry since the early 1980s. We would broaden the industry’s base, it was thought, if we promoted the enjoyment that our products could provide rather than promote such arcane technical specs as total harmonic distortion (or now, million-to-one contrast ratios).
By the mid ‘80s, the car audio aftermarket passionately embraced the concept but drove it in new directions. At consumer soundoff events, retailers and promoters hosted swimsuit contests whose contestants wore bikinis and received coverage in car audio trade and consumer magazines.
In the 21st century, the custom-installer channel has begun to embrace the car audio aftermarket’s approach to selling, perhaps realizing that a generation of car audio installers have evolved into custom-home installers. To promote its new products here at the CEDIA Expo, for example, Aton emailed booth invites bearing a prominent picture of a leather-clad woman, and CinePro emailed an invite dominated by a derrier clad in lacy underwear. Face not included!
Here at the Expo, SpeakerCraft got into the act a bit with regular live performances at its booth by the Lucent Dossier dance troupe, whose ladies were by no means provocatively dressed but whose costumes certainly caught the eyes of attendees. The costumes also caught the eyes of reporters when the troupe danced at a press conference, and the girls embraced some of us.
For SpeakerCraft, run by a group of guys who take business seriously but like to have fun, the aim was less to titillate and more to lighten the mood at a serious event at a time when, according to president Jeremy Burkhardt, the industry is suffering “its most challenging year since CEDIA has been in business.” For the rest of the suppliers, I’m not so sure.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that