The micro-miniskirt that was all the rage the past year or so may be out of style by November in more ways than one.
The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) plans to issue guidelines for trade show booth models' outfits in time for the next SEMA Show this fall. The guidelines are yet to be drawn up, but they could look at such high school dress code mainstays as the length of a woman's skirt, said Peter MacGillivray, vice president of marketing and communications.
``It became clear that it reached a point where we have to address it, so we will be outlining in very specific terms what will cut it and what won't'' at the 2005 show, he told Tire Business.
Mr. MacGillivray said SEMA had received feedback about model outfits from the past show, Nov. 2-5 in Las Vegas. In fact, in an unscientific Tire Business online poll after the show, 27.8 percent of the 316 respondents said the outfits were getting out of hand. Another 13.3 percent said only a few exhibitors had crossed the line.
``The overabundance of pneumatic blondes with skimpy attire has no place in a business setting,'' Jerry White, president of White Tire Supply Inc. in Beaumont, Texas, wrote in response to the poll. ``...If this is the only way an exhibitor can attract attention to the product or service offered-then that company is in trouble.''
Still, a clear majority-57.6 percent of the TB poll respondents-said the outfits are just part of the show experience.
Considering that, Mr. MacGillivray said the guidelines will seek to be fair to both sides, not a crackdown of Puritanical proportions. Still, he said SEMA doesn't want to interfere with the business that is the show's priority, and he's confident show-goers will understand SEMA's motives.
``It's something that we're always confronted with,'' he said. ``It's part of the show business that we're in, but we really don't want to lose sight of the business nature of the show, and when it reaches this point we address it.''
With this in mind, SEMA also plans to remind show-goers to dress professionally, for example avoiding shorts.
The specific guidelines will be outlined in SEMA's Exhibitor Services Manual, which will be published in mid-summer. Besides dress code, it also will offer suggestions for models' conduct as well as the content of print advertisements published in SEMA directories. Additionally, SEMA's floor manager will maintain supervision on the show floor, and all booth talent will check into the show at a central place, giving organizers another chance to check their duds.
``I'm comfortable that we'll be able to find a place that won't offend anybody but also won't take away from the show experience, either,'' Mr. MacGillivray said.
Dana Zamalloa, marketing communications manager for Toyo Tire (U.S.A.) Corp., said she welcomes the guidelines. Toyo's models are a popular draw for the booth, often leading a line of show-goers waiting for an autographed poster or perhaps a snapshot with a pretty young woman.
But Ms. Zamalloa said Toyo is careful to select model outfits that are ``sexy yet tasteful.'' She added the guidelines could be a positive influence on exhibitors.
``We kind of feel it's a good thing,'' she said.