Mercedes-Benz and Team X Thailand partner to stop use of ‘booth babes’ in Thailand
Motor shows are one of the biggest events for the automotive industry, but not all attendees come to see the latest in cars. Many also come to see the ‘booth babes,‘ known in Thailand as the ‘pretty.’
Thailand’s motor shows have been featuring the ‘pretty’ for over 30 years and several of the women have since disclosed the dark truth that comes along with memorizing car scripts and wearing short dresses and bright red lipstick, in the form of verbal and physical abuse. Others have been raped, stalked and even killed, as per data.
Atch Bunyaprasit, general manager of marketing communications, Mercedes-Benz Thailand, says: “People come to Motor Shows for two reasons: to see cars and to see a ‘pretty.’ In light of this, when we saw how many female presenters suffered sexual harassment, we decided to remove anything associated with the stereotypical sexy booth girl and to give people only one reason to attend the shows: to check out our latest cars.”
This is a part of leading automobile company Mercedes-Benz’s ongoing support for diversity-led initiatives.
The latest marketing news and insights straight to your inbox.
Get the best of The Drum by choosing from a series of great email briefings, whether that’s daily news, weekly recaps or deep dives into media or creativity.Sign up
Walking the talk
To stop this abuse and present a new way forward, Mercedes-Benz announced on its screen at this year’s Bangkok international motor show to 1.5 million viewers that it would no longer use the ‘pretty’ at car shows.
Instead the ‘pretty’ will evolve into ‘digital guides,’ a virtual role for both genders, eliminating sexualized attire at motor shows and introducing a new and exciting digital interface that creates a safe and enjoyable environment for both male and female car presenters.
Unlocking the power of advertising
During the brainstorming phase for the brand campaign to get people into Mercedes-Benz booths at the Bangkok Motor Show – one of Thailand’s biggest car shows – the team found a deep problem: the booth babe industry hadn’t changed in over 30 years, and many girls who had done this job had dark stories to tell.
Bunyaprasit says: “After talking it over with the team, we decided to start a movement instead of a recruiting campaign – a movement we hope will bring change to motor shows forever.”
Thus Mercedes-Benz, in partnership with Team X Thailand, launched the ‘reinvention of tomorrow’ campaign.
The tough part of cracking the brief
Motor shows the world over have become big events where hundreds of companies line up, shoot ads, buy spots and try to become a highlight of the event. The challenge, says Thasorn Boonyanate, chief creative officer of Team X Thailand Bangkok, was to put Mercedes-Benz on the spot without spending a million baht. The team talked to a lot of victims to find the best way to convey their story and offer a solution to this issue.
“Having dug deeper into the booth babe industry, we decided to make a video, telling the story of ‘pretty’ and using Mercedes-Benz’s own screen to stand up for this issue to end pretty harassment once and for all,” adds Boonyanate.