Convention Tension: Finding A Company That Specializes In Creepiness

I have another blog away from the ChicagoNow platform. We’re just over a year old at this point, and although I toyed with the idea at times, I’ve never investigated working with brands in the past. Because we were young and also a group blog with a range of voices, I decided to sit back for a while and let our voice develop a bit. It made sense for us to figure out who we were before we were trying to tell other people about that.

Now more settled, I decided to head to the International Home and Housewares Show this past week. My goals were pretty simple – I wanted to look around, see if there were any brands that seemed like a good fit for IBC and enjoy an amazing show at the same time.

I did not set up appointments ahead of time or plan any hard pitches. I did not try to collect swag.

I walked. I gathered some good contact information and shook a few hands.

And then I went to one exhibitor area that shocked me.

When I approached the exhibit, I saw a product that I thought was a great storage item. I wanted to say hello and snag a catalog. I wasn’t pitching myself – I wanted to buy that product.

I introduced myself to the two gentlemen working in the booth. As I started to explain what had drawn me to the booth, the elder of the two, in his 80s (he told me), interrupted to tell me I was beautiful, and if he got a note with permission from his wife, would I go out with him?

I smiled and chatted back – no harm here. When he mentioned I was actually probably too old for him, I laughed and told him I had a younger sister.

Then, the second gentleman joined in this line of conversation.

The problem wasn’t what they said – It was that it never stopped.

I continually tried to navigate to my questions about their products – and was continually shut down.

I was eventually able to get a catalog, but they would not discuss it.

Finally, I just walked away. When I turned to leave, the younger of the two said, “Even if you just throw the catalog away, thanks for stopping by.” Exasperated, I tried to tell him one last time the products in which I was interested.

He wasn’t listening.

Working with brands via a blog? That’s new to me.

But branding, marketing, selling – and how you present yourself? Those are not new to me. And that particular company? Huge fail. I kept the catalog – because I have noted that I will never work with them in any fashion, or buy their products.

What brand faux pas have you experienced (and let’s leave the company name out of it)?

And tell me – when does innocent banter step over the line?

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