**This article has been amended to reflect HTC UK’s response below. I am leaving the blog post up as I think the sentiment is important. However, I have amended the blog to reflect that the supplier has not been used in the manner they intimated on LinkedIn. Thanks to HTC for responding.

From @HTC_UK – Hi Amy, HTC UK have not used this company for any phone launch since the HTC One M8 over three years ago and there has not been a physical phone launch event in 2018.

This week I found myself part of a (small!) but important social media storm – all prompted by a post on LinkedIn. Another example of a major brand completely misjudging its audience, and the fact that it’s 2018 and times have changed.

On Thursday I spotted this post.

I want to make clear, this is not an attack on the individual women, Helena nor her business – but it is a criticism of HTC and a decision that presumably went something like this:

“Not sure we’ve got enough to work with here guys. Let’s sex it up – go hire some hot girls.”

My post (with a corresponding thread in the fantastic TechJPR group on Facebook) has been retweeted, debated and supported by PRs, journalists and influencers across the tech industry who are all sick and tired of using women as eye-candy to dress sets. This is why:

1) Did we not just witness the debacle that was the President’s Club? Just how out-of-touch is HTC to run an event staffed by ‘hostesses’? As reflected in HTC’s statement – this event was prior to the President’s Club

2) The ‘booth-babe’ tactic is more tired than my feet in heels after a launch event. Even ten years ago brands were being castigated for hiring eye-candy to staff conference stands. Such ‘sexing-up’ screams a lack of creativity, and a lack of faith in the strength of your brand and your product.

3) If you need event staff – hire event staff! Hire these girls, alongside men. Give everyone clothes that allow them to comfortably do their job, or give them the choice of what to wear. And can we take a moment to consider diversity?

4. Tech is for women too. It’s also for men. It’s for people who want to be impressed and inspired by innovation. Consider your audience.

It’s a shame that women who’ve questioned this issue have been accused of a) trying to rid women of jobs (no, that’s not the case) b) jealousy. The inevitable response from those who deny the inequality in this situation is to pit women against each other. This is a tactic of divide and conquer, not of intelligent debate. It also ignores the men that agree and support the issue.

Hopefully we can all agree that brands who want to be inclusive, innovative and interesting should be engaged in more creative ways of telling their story.

Thank you to HTC UK for responding and it’s good to hear that this seems to be a tactic they’ve consigned to the scrap heap.