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Chief Executive Officer, Security Innovation

Vendor marketing spend has reached ludicrous proportions

Feb 08, 20072 mins
Data and Information Security

Having spent 3 days at the RSA Conference so far this week, I am overwhelmed by the marketing spend happening here. There are a lot of dollars being spent to get my attention. Never mind that the solutions being hocked have nothing to do with the actual marketing gimmick in my face – this is supposed to be fun, right? Well, it isn’t – in fact, some are just plain stupid. Expensive and stupid.

Upon walking into the Expo hall, I was greeting by 2 jugglers on 8-foot unicycles, a two-tailed mule from some made-up terrorist cell-looking country, and scantily clad women on Segue scooters dressed in police uniforms. The only thing I could think was, “Where the hell am I?”  This looked more like a Cirque de Soleil show than a security conference. What happened to the educational components? They are here … and there are more of them in past years, but unfortunately they get drowned out and hidden by the large sponsor dollars that dominate all open spaces available for advertising and promotion.

This is nothing new — the expo floor was always jammed with hokey gimmicks aimed at getting you to stop long enough to be swarmed by the marketing folks — two of them holding you down while the other scans your badge.  But this year it reached epic proportions… and it even spread beyond the expo floor. Even the crypto lounge, which used to be a hallowed place for serious security congregations and conversations, has been “pimped out” — obnoxious talk shows with the host spewing out inane drivel and “observations” were being played on one side while promotional presentations and webcasts blared on the other. Hidden in the middle were some gems with usable content and live session presentations, but the attendees there were clearly annoyed with the noise and chatter surrounding them.

OK, so I’m cranky because I’ve been having 20 meetings/day and standing on my feet for 4 straight days. Maybe I’m just jealous that I don’t have that kind of marketing budget to spend… nah! If I did have that kind of dough to spend I certainly wouldn’t spend it on the tallest bikini model in the world just to have her stand at my booth (and no, I’m not kidding… that was here too).

Chief Executive Officer, Security Innovation

Ed Adams is a software executive with successful leadership experience in various-sized organizations that serve the IT security and quality assurance industries. As CEO, Mr. Adams applies his security and business skills, as well as his pervasive industry experience in the software quality space, to direct application security experts to help organizations understand the risks in their software systems and develop programs to mitigate those risks. The company has delivered high-quality risk solutions to the most recognizable companies in the world including Microsoft, IBM, Fedex, ING, Sony, Nationwide and HP.