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Four Security Exhibits That Won Without 'Booth Babes'

After last week's news that RSA Conference 2015 will ban so-called booth babes, I heard from a lot of people who agree vendors need to find other ways to attract attention during security conferences. Others felt the issue was nothing but useless security industry drama, but there is a lesson in this discussion for marketers.

One reader told me the use of booth babes isn't the result of bad intentions. It's just that some marketing teams don't know any better. They assume the booth babes work because they see others using them. I think there's some truth to that.

So I've decided to give marketing practitioners some examples of successful exhibits that succeeded without the sex.

Here are four examples of exhibits that won on the strength of the security message. They use other gimmicks, to be sure, but in my opinion they are more about creativity than exploitation. Feel free to disagree with what follows, or share other examples of displays that worked.


Veracode's "No S.O.U.P for You!" Campaign, RSA 2012.
This was an example of a gimmick that worked because it was closely aligned with the company's message and offerings. Booth visitors got to have their picture taken with Larry Thomas of "Seinfeld" fame. He's best known for his Soup Nazi character, and Veracode commissioned him to help promote it's campaign to eliminate S.O.U.P. -- Software of Unknown Pedigree. In other words, third-party software that goes unchecked for too long, left to gather vulnerabilities and increase risk.

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The NSA's Annual Enigma Display at RSA
OK, I realize the NSA isn't very popular right now. But you have to give the agency credit for drawing people to their RSA booth each year -- even this year, despite all the anger over its surveillance programs -- by showing off one of the actual Enigma devices from WW II. The Germans encoded messages on the machine by twirling the rotors. By capturing a couple of them, British code-breakers figured out how to break the codes.

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The ThreatPost booth, RSA 2009 and 2010
When Kaspersky launched it's ThreatPost security news site, organizers went all out to promote it at RSA. They created a booth where people could come, relax, do some computer work and grab free beverages. It was a great exercise in community building, and I met some people in the 2009 booth that have become valued security resources and dear friends.

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Application Security, Inc. Sumo Wrestler, RSA 2012
This vendor -- acquired by Trustwave last year -- employed a Sumo wrestler and invited attendees to try and take him down. It was a simple metaphor for their message that companies who use them can't be taken down.

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