TotalCIO

Dec 3 2008   3:05PM GMT

FatWire’s sex site demo backfires at Boston Web 2.0 conference



Posted by: Linda Tucci
Tags:
Conference coverage

Talk about a booby trap. Yogesh Gupta, the president and CEO of FatWire, was glibly making his way through his presentation on “Online Engagement — The Key to Success in Good Times and Bad.” The gist of the first 20 minutes or so was that in hard times companies can exploit the Web to gain market share, retain customers, etc., without spending a ton of money. When it came time for the FatWire commercial — you need a pro to really get your Web presences right — Gupta called up one of his employees to show the audience a demo of what FatWire can do for its customers in terms of data analytics. The site that was called up was none other than Playboy’s and, in particular, Playboy’s Cyber Girls. But no worries, says Gupta to the audience, it’s been “sanitized.”

“It’s still offensive,” calls out a woman in the audience, and therein ensued what must be a first for an IT/Web 2.0 conference: a heated exchange about why Gupta chose this site and did heĀ understand thatĀ it was an assault on women in the audience. The woman, who happened to be sitting near me, ended up extracting an apology from the podium and a personal apology after the talk was over. More later…

26  Comments on this Post

 
There was an error processing your information. Please try again later.
Thanks. We'll let you know when a new response is added.
Send me notifications when other members comment.

REGISTER or login:

Forgot Password?
By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy
  • Linda Tucci
    I was there too, glibly is a great description. However, what offended me was that he took everyone's time in a keynote session -- which should be a forward-looking thought session about the industry -- and turned it into a demo opportunity. I probably shouldn't blame him since his company was a platinum sponsor of the conference. However, if Fatwire plans to do future sponsorships they would do well to focus on thought leadership and not self-promotion. I'd also stay off the titillating content types, since there was more than just one person who was offended.
    0 pointsBadges:
    report
  • Mrg
    I guess it escaped everyone's attention that the corporation guiding site in question is chaired and commanded by a woman.
    285 pointsBadges:
    report
  • Linda Tucci
    I probably wouldn't have chosen that content either, but I think we're a bit too sensitive about things like that, especially here in the U.S. And I certainly wouldn't have called out from the audience like that woman did - that's just rude. Americans need to realize that the constitution does not have a provision protecting you from being offended. There are many people out there who just live to be offended and are constantly looking for reasons why they should feel offended. Empty lives, I guess.
    0 pointsBadges:
    report
  • Linda Tucci
    The constitution has nothing to do with it -- this was a private organization speaking in a private venue -- not government. Anyway -- whether or not you are allowed to do something is not the issue -- it's whether it's a good idea or not. In this case, it was a stupid idea, all downside and no upside. I'm not offended by nudity -- I'm offended by stupidity and bad judgment. If you don't know that showing Playboy at a tech keynote isn't proper, then you have no business being up there. FatWire should be glad that someone complained -- she was doing them a favor by expressing herself, instead of just quietly never having anything to do with them, and they'd never know why they were failing to reach their audience.
    0 pointsBadges:
    report
  • Linda Tucci
    So it begs the question... content aside... did the demo work?
    0 pointsBadges:
    report
  • Linda Tucci
    A lady walked up to me and asked to see a demo. I was one of the exhibitors showing WCM solutions. About 10 minutes into the demo she really liked what she saw and proceeded to tell me that she was just over at Fatwire's booth where receiving their "pitch" and demo she felt very demeaned by their content. That is when I learned the Sales team was also demo'ing Cyber Girls to the "would be" prospects who were walking by. Completely shocked, I later learned what they presented in the Keynote as well (as this thread is discussing). In my opinion, it looks like a platinum sponsor in the worst economic times tried to reach for an extreme measure in an effort to capture their audience and it backfired. I'm curious how their management team will react.
    0 pointsBadges:
    report
  • Linda Tucci
    Were more impressed than offended? At least they got some free publicity! Anybody know the URL of the "playmates?"
    0 pointsBadges:
    report
  • Linda Tucci
    A Keynote session is not the place for sales. The actual site and content is not an issue. The use of it to garner attention and sales is. It is an insult to the public that they attempted (so obviously) to manipulate.
    0 pointsBadges:
    report
  • Linda Tucci
    I think it is hilarious, and I'm a woman! All I can say is: IT is largely a man's field, if you can't take the heat, get out of the datacenter!! Too many thin-skinned people in this world, she should have had a good laugh and moved on. Sheesh...
    0 pointsBadges:
    report
  • Linda Tucci
    As a man, my opinion means nothing to women who were offended by this. However, as someone who has been involved in a wide range of businesses, I can say that as a business person you must put aside your personal feelings and focuses on the business at hand. Adult sites make a tremendous amount of revenue and are a very good example for wide variety of analytics, that don't present themselves on other sites. I am not certain I would have used an adult site for my product demo, but the data pulled from those types of sites is fascinating and is reflection of media sites of the future. I hate to say this, but I think the woman who expressed feeling that she was being assaulted by the content, needs to grow up. If she is so new to this industry or so insular in her field that she can't look at data from a site that has content she disproves of and still recognize its worth, then she needs to find a new profession. What if he presented data from the Jewish Alliance for Change and an Iranian found offense at this material, would we even be having this conversation? Would Gupta have handed out a personal apology? We all know the answer, this is no different and if you think it is, you have a lot of growing up to do in the business world.
    0 pointsBadges:
    report
  • Linda Tucci
    It was a professional demonstration, not a personal one. Be offended if a salesman at sears shows you a cable station that has nudity. But if you are at a professional demonstration on web analytics, be a professional and put aside your personal feelings about the political nature of playboy. Suppose the analytics had been on the Church of Scientology's web site--what, I'm sure that she/they would complain about that too. Again, in a professional context, a business is a business, and ask yourself, who among the audience would in fact turn down a lucrative consulting engagement with Playboy Enterprises were it offered...but if you were my consultant and could not put aside your personal concerns to act and perform professionally, I would take pleasure in firing your worthless, self-indulgent ***.
    0 pointsBadges:
    report
  • Linda Tucci
    Keynote sessions and corporate demos (except maybe at a Playboy convention) are not proper places to promote the exploitation of women. Just because IT is still a "man's" world doesn't make it right or even acceptable. For the women who think this is ok, I hope they continue to also enjoy being paid less than their male counterparts. What if it had been a child porn site? Should they still have "looked past the content to see the worth"? Sex sells and has since the beginning of time, but that doesn't mean it should be used as a marketing tool for something other than itself. It's not about asking women to "grow up", get rid of their "empty lives" or not be "rude" by speaking up, it's about mutual respect. The same respect that is given to not showing religious content or other content that someone might find offensive should also be applied to the exploitation of women. For those who think this is acceptable, picture your mother, sister, niece, daughter, or granddaughter on one of these sites and decide if it's still acceptable?
    0 pointsBadges:
    report
  • 1982
    Hi. This is 1982. I'd like my mildly amusing morality soapbox back. Putting Playboy on the same level as child porn sites? Are you serious? This is 2008 right? I didn't just fall into a wormhole..
    5 pointsBadges:
    report
  • Doug
    Get a life....this is Marketing 101
    0 pointsBadges:
    report
  • Linda Tucci
    That has to be the most ridicules argument I have read in a while, I think you forgot to mention Nazis while you were at it. The presenter was not showing you images from Playboy, he was discussing data analytics gleaned from their site. If he had been at a cyber law enforcement conference, he may very well have used child pornography statistics. Your argument lies with the content of the website, not it's data. As mentioned above, I to would have fired you a long time ago, if you couldn't separate your personal feelings from your work.
    0 pointsBadges:
    report
  • Linda Tucci
    The first rule in any performance is to know your audience. I don't find Playboy offensive, but that doesn't matter. Someone did, and he should have anticipated that someone might. Instead of taking advantage of a captive to hear a keynote speech, he created a debate on a variety of subjects, not the least of which is a woman's perception of the exploitation of women. He and many others will now remember the first rule. Mike
    0 pointsBadges:
    report
  • Linda Tucci
    Men have no idea what kind of social climate a woman would experience sitting in a "largely male" dominated room and having the presentation turn from regular business to a presentation involving soft-porn. I think it's obvious that the female demographic was not considered or if it was, not considered important enough to BE concerned with. I would be irritated to go to a professional gathering and find myself in such a situation and won't apologize for it. I wasn't there and don't know what content was shown. I wouldn't be offended by mere mention of "Playboy" or of analytical data presented from such a site. I would be offended by being suckered into a sales pitch wrapped up in half-naked packaging in hopes the attendees don't notice.
    0 pointsBadges:
    report
  • Linda Tucci
    This was an exceptionally poor choice under any circumstances. I'm not thin skinned or over-reactionary. Our business conversations need to evolve beyond thinking this was ok.
    0 pointsBadges:
    report
  • Linda Tucci
    Opps there it is! I hate to say it but most people from Asian countries still treat women as seconds class citizens. I think Yogesh Gupta still thinks that he is in Asia or even the US a few decades ago in which this sort of stuff was acceptable practice in meetings. Remember at that time there were very few women in management or even technical positions meetings like this were full of men so this type of showing how "manly" they are was common. It is interesting that Yogesh Gupta would become a CEO of an US company now and only few decades ago in the US he wouldn't be able to do that. However it is now 2008 and this is the US so Yogesh Gupta, and all other people in the world, need to wake up stop discriminating all people.
    0 pointsBadges:
    report
  • Linda Tucci
    I'm not offended, but I think that is showed lack of cultural sensitivity, not to mention a failure to consider the demands of political correctness.
    0 pointsBadges:
    report
  • Linda Tucci
    I find the degradation of this discussion amusing. From comparing Playboy to child porn to complaining about a keynote giving a product demonstration. Mr. Gupta should have never used something so controversial as part of his demo - - back to the point know your audience. Regardless of this lapse in judgement, professionals should be able to contain their personal objections to focus on the business aspects. As far as the whole, "exploiting women" statements, these ladies bring in millions posing nude. I believe that men's weaknesses are being exploited when in comes to pornography. Men pay big $$ for pornography.... so who's being exploited... pulease. In almost any situation you run the risk of offending someone these days, knowing that, we all should be sensitive to it not over sensitive. Unfortunately, the age of innocence has long been replaced by the age of litigation.
    0 pointsBadges:
    report
  • "John
    I was there and I found the whole thing ridiculous. What were FatWire thinking, honestly? Mr. Gupta had just finished reminding us of how 3M were one of their big accounts and that they 'just closed the biggest deal in their history' with a large bank. Both are in sober, conservative industries. Why on earth then showcase another one of their customers from such a vasty different side of the industry spectrum to an audience filled with sober, well dressed 30, 40, 50 and 60-somethings?? Bizarre. And to top it all off - the demo walked us through the life of a 'typical user - Male 20-29'. I don't know too many males in their 20's who are on cybergirls.com looking for 'sanitized' images of women. What a farce. Shame on FatWire's marketing department for letting this out. I would have resigned in protest.
    0 pointsBadges:
    report
  • Linda Tucci
    I'm shocked! Shocked that people are surprised FatWire would use the keynote to pitch their product. I've been to too many technology conferences to know, if you give a company a platform, it will turn into a sales pitch... Secondly I'm shocked, that anyone would be surprised FatWire would use SEX to sell their product. Goodness-Gracious!! OH MY!! Oh no! But how many times have we walked the conference floor to see "booth-bunnies" handing out free pens/t-shirts/flashdrives; or even beer, as Hula Networks did one year with "booth-bunnies" wearing grass-skirts and bikini tops. and by the way, the line was long and, yes, filled mostly with men. And even though I did not participate, I remembered who they are and what they do... The social commentaries I've read have merit; I do not discount them. However, the statements about shock and outrage... Come on; are you kidding me? Have you been to COMDEX/INTEROP, E3, VON, you name it... Sex sells... When the Victoria Secrets runway show was broadcast online, it took the transit and peering connections down at a number of a ISPs...
    0 pointsBadges:
    report
  • Linda Tucci
    This is a prime example of why every single corporate presentation outside of a sales call should be vetted by the marketing department. Whether we like it or not, this is 2008, not 1978, and when you're representing your company you have to be cognizant of what society deems appropriate and inappropriate in different settings. Pitching to petitemeat.xxx, by all means showcase your work with Playboy, although purveyors of height-challenged porn will probably think you're lame. But not in front of a mixed group of people attending a public conference. Makes you wonder if his software secretly ads easter eggs on client websites that make farting sounds when you click them.
    0 pointsBadges:
    report
  • KP
    I am actually offended by the fact another complete moron is getting rich as the CEO and President of a company. Sheesh, Sarah Palin could have figured out it would offend someone. This is why executive pay is ridiculous. No value.
    5 pointsBadges:
    report
  • Chikoo
    This is to Frank who says: "I hate to say it but most people from Asian countries still treat women as seconds class citizens.I think Yogesh Gupta still thinks that he is in Asia.." He is an Indian, and lest you forget the US has yet to elect a Woman at the highest post. India already achieved this in 1966, a mere 18 years into independence. Also Yogesh Gupta is a Hindu, and in Hinduism, a God is never alone. He is always accompnied by his source of power, the Goddess. Actually, the in mentioning them in prayers, the woman Goddess is mentioned first. see Sita-Rama, Radha-Krishna, Laxmi-Narayan. The western Christian or any other religion has yet to accord this status to a woman. Yogesh Gupta did nothing wrong is using usable data. It is business after all. One cannot combine business with your personal value system.
    0 pointsBadges:
    report

Forgot Password

No problem! Submit your e-mail address below. We'll send you an e-mail containing your password.

Your password has been sent to: