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This Pole-Dancing Robot at ISE 2020 is Rubbing Some Attendees the Wrong Way

Netherlands-based mounting solutions provider Vogel’s is turning heads at ISE 2020 with a pole-dancing robot, but #avtweeps say it’s for the wrong reasons.

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This display at ISE 2020 had some attendees taking to social media to voice their opinion.

I’m not at ISE 2020, but I am helping our folks on the ground who are running around the RAI Amsterdam’s 15 halls and are surely exhausted after three days at the world’s largest pro AV event.

That includes following the discussion on social media, and some of that discussion seems to be about Netherlands-based mounting solutions company Vogel’s Professional.

The company’s stand (1-M30) features a robot pole-dancing on what appears to be one of the company’s display mounts.

Some Twitter-active AV professionals slammed the company for a general lack of taste and for misreading the room, especially when the industry’s trade shows have largely moved on from the once-common practice of using so-called “booth babes” to attract attention and as diversity movements like the AVIXA Women’s Council are making strides in creating a more diverse and inclusive industry.

See all of our ISE 2020 coverage here

No one from Vogel’s has yet answered our email seeking more information about their decision to include the pole-dancing robot in their ISE 2020 stand. We also reached out to ISE managing director Mike Blackman and will update this article if either one comments on the situation.

Here are just a few of the tweets questioning the decision by Vogel’s:

Brandy Alvarado, the chair of the Women’s Council, said the council asked AVIXA to act on the display, but as of Thursday, the robot was still dancing away, according to Twitter posts from event attendees.

“We are an industry working hard towards being more gender equal,” Alvarado said from the U.S.  “(We are) working hard to make our shows a safe and successful environment for women, and this stripper robot is counterproductive. These types of ‘booth babes’ whether in robot or human form are unacceptable in my book.”

In a statement, AVIXA senior director of communications Joé Lloyd, said she would not share the details of conversations between the association, ISE leadership and exhibitors, adding AVIXA would not instruct an exhibitor to change its booth.

“AVIXA’s CEO, Dave Labuskes, has been on record since 2014 with our stance on diversity and inclusion,” Lloyd said in an email to Commercial Integrator. “Our message has always been that a true path to diversity and inclusiveness is dependent on open communications and a willingness to learn.”

“As the industry association, we would encourage anyone who is disturbed by an exhibit to have a constructive conversation with the exhibitor. We fully agree with the sentiment that one should not do business with a company that they feel behaves in an inappropriate fashion,” she said.

About the Author

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Zachary Comeau comes from a journalism background with more than 8 years of experience writing for several daily newspapers and industry trade publications in Massachusetts. He joined Commercial Integrator in October 2019.

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Comments

  • Tim says:

    So the Super Bowl halftime show was acceptable, and this is not!
    If this truly offends you, where you for the Super Bowl halftime show.
    Maybe not a wise move on Vogel’s part, but good for them.
    Get a life people, this falls under the category of humor.
    PS – What did you expect, it’s Amsterdam.

  • Maxwell Kopsho, RCDD, CTS-I, CTS-D, PMP says:

    It’s just a joke – geez – all this does is air “dirty laundry” and make AV look ridiculous – if this is a discussion that needs to be had, it should be had behind closed doors. We should collectively promote our industry and our growth in diversity.

    I know this post will be very unpopular with so many people. But I am also at a point in my life/career that I just stopped caring what others think/say.

    When I look through some recent “AV Influencers” social media posts I see memes with people dancing in just their underwear or people preparing for a “fun run” also in only their underwear (some of that underwear a little too provocative). I also see memes with a half-dressed celebrity (also very provocatively clad) and some cheeky saying with it (that many of us should find offensive). Other posts I have seen would boarder on one influencer “hitting on” another influencer of the opposite sex (bordering on sexual harassment in many places). I actually find the complaint and the use of a cuss word just as offensive than the so called infraction itself.

    Why do I point all of this out? Because I also see all of this being done in jest and everyone in that community takes it as such as well. So why is that when a company makes (an albeit) an off-center joke by using a pole dancing robot to illustrate the 360-degree pole mounting solution they have, they are chastised beyond measure. Let’s put the joke into a little bit of context: this was done while at a show done in a city where morale guidelines are… shall we say, open to very broad interpretation by a company from a city not too far away. This same show is where alcohol is served at most of the booths at the closing time of each day and the exhibit hall is just a few short blocks away from the world-famous Red-Light District. What is scary to me is how far we were willing to take this campaign of righteousness. Amazingly one person even makes the recommendation to impact the livelihood of many employees who work for that company by suggesting a ban of that brand from specification and sales implying that if people work with this company it is a reflection on their character. I agree, if you decide to carry this brand you are saying you can see past a mistake and you too are human like they are. You are also saying that you can take a joke. Our industry is about the people and we shouldn’t just turn our backs on them when we don’t have the full story.

    C’mon AV, get off your high horse. Have we really gone so far that we can’t even take a joke (even if it is a bad one)? Have we really lost all of our empathy that we can’t make the connection of pre-show marketing (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CKM2nIPXHk) to what is shown at the show?

    Do I agree this was a poorly executed joke? Yes. Will I give this company the benefit of the doubt that it was just that? Yes.

    Lastly, I would like to comment on the statements made by AVIXA. For someone in an official capacity (employee or chairperson of a committee) to be quoted as suggesting to not do business with such a company without making the additional suggestion of doing more research or due diligence is also (in my opinion) very irresponsible. Our industry needs people promoting out manufacturers and if you are a representative of AVIXA speaking about a founding member of one of your trade shows, you should suggest more diplomatic ways to resolve issues. Even in the case of protecting the advancement of Women in AV, you may want to help such a company that has a woman CEO and look for ways to turn this into a positive instead of immediately suggesting ways to take income away from many of the women who work for that company.

    I look forward to hearing what this company has to say. I already know this brand speaks for itself. Too bad it doesn’t do as much business as it should in the USA. They are clearly getting a lot more press now. Hopefully they do the right thing with this newly found popularity.

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