Dotster’s sexist PR stunt

It's not the fact that a trade show has booth babes: that's nothing new. It's that the Dotster Dots are "several of the most important women on the Internet."

In a time where women's wages are actually decreasing, where women still fight to be recognized in technology (and not as a "woman in technology"), when only 12 of 100 speakers at O'Reilly's Web 2.0 Summit were female, couldn't there have been a better approach? Sheesh. I'd love to see one of a few things happen:

1) a Dotster boycott–people move their domains off Dotster to another registrar
2) people set up appointments with Michael Ingalls (mobile below) and then not show up
3) continually prank call his phone

The email press release is below:

Date: Fri, 5 Jan 2007 13:49:41 -0500
From: Michael Ingalls <>
To: Michael Ingalls <>
Subject: Several of the most important women on the Internet are available for editorial interviews

They are at CES to promote online enterprise of all sorts — the most affordable, creative and efficient way possible. They are the ambassadors for Dotster, a leading domain registration and marketing company on the net. Dotster is offering many CES show specials on its suite of MyInternet Web site services — featuring domain name selection, registration, Web site design, construction and hosting – at the lowest pricing ever!

The Dotster Dots are available for interviews and to meet in person at CES 2007!

Please contact me on my mobile phone at (917) 494-4909 to set up an interview at the show.

To download a high-resolution image of the Dotster Dots, please click on the following link:


WHO:             Dotster, Inc., one of the nation's leading Internet and technology companies, will feature its Dotster Dot spokesmodels live at CES 2007.

Two of the recent winners of the "Search for the Dotster Dots" nationwide talent hunt, Shalena Hughes and Yesenia Adame, will be seen on the show floor discussing Dotster's MyInternet Web site services.

Dotster will be running a CES show special for its MyInternet service. As part of the special, Dotster will offer domain name selection and registration at no cost for all CES attendees who sign up for MyInternet in January of 2007.

In addition to the CES show special, Dotster will automatically enter all new CES January 2007 MyInternet clients into a drawing to win a new 2007 Corvette. The Corvette give away will take place in February 2007.

As well as appearing on the show floor, the Dotster Dots will take part in the Digital Experience event held on January 7, 2007 at Caesars Palace in the Events Center from 7-10pm.

WHAT:         Dotster's MyInternet service features domain name selection, registration, website design, construction and hosting — starting at less than one dollar per day. MyInternet is a hands-on, personalized service approach to custom Web site design. Through the program, Dotster's knowledgeable in-house designers provide one-on-one support for clients from concept to completion. MyInternet provides users with an individually tailored program to cater to their specific needs — not a fill in the blanks template!

CONTACT:   Media interviews are available now, as well as during CES, to speak with Dotster and the Dots about MyInternet:

Michael Ingalls
HWH PR/New Media
(212) 355-5049 (X124)

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  1. The saddest part is not merely the pervasive sexism of Vegas tech shows that this demonstrates, but that this is so baldly a rip-off of GoDaddy's tackiness. Like somebody had a meeting at Dotster and said "GoDaddy got lots of users because of boobs — let's try that!" Sad.

  2. Related: O'Reill's upcoming 2007 Etech had three women speakers listed, last I checked. Three! And two were markerting types, not even techies. ARGH.

  3. I've heard that O'Reilly does have initiatives in place to put more women on panels, that Tim O'Reilly is trying to sort out the issue. Both you and I have spoken at ETech. If I recall, it's the kind of thing where you submit a proposal–how many women submit proposals? What makes me fume is that Web 2.0 erased a lot of the gains women had made in the Internet field. I also find myself resenting the whole BlogHer empire these days — I respect what they're doing, but then it's just about women and blogging, not women being technologists, just doing their thing and not being women about it. Know what I mean?

  4. Hey, no slagging on us marketing types!I actually think that women in technology often play the connector roles between "business" and "technology", which usually, even with a product strategy title, gets slotted into "marketing". And because that connector role is often unnamed or falls in a "project manager" kind of administrative realm, it becomes difficult to accord recognition to the importance of that role and find ways to talk about that role on panels. Often those people are stuck at the office making the projects work rather than going to conferences and shaking hands.

  5. agreed! i am a marketer type, i guess, but i don't think that means i should be less qualified to be at etech?

  6. No no, I don't mean marketers are less qualified, certainly. But I get frustrated when the preeminent tech conference of the year, the few women that are speaking are speaking about the "soft" topics like marketing and design, as opposed to programming or tech stuff. I just wish there was representation from women in technology building technology, if that makes many women submit proposals?Yes, Etech is driven by proposal submission, and I think this years topic, which "is about magic and the sufficiently advanced technology behind" skews more heavily than past topics in a real hacker (and possibly more male) direction. But I'm sick of the excuse, "well, women didn't submit proposals." That's not enough. I have spoken at Etech in the past. I submitted a proposal this year and didn't get accepted.I also find myself resenting the whole BlogHer empire these daysI agree. It's always been too separatist for my taste.

  7. You know, if I weren't in thesis-writing madness, my research would've been perfect for eTech this year. It's about distortion, responsiveness and magic in architecture. But I will be putting on a conference at Yale right after eTech happens.I just interviewed Limor Fried for SXSW's magazine. She's an engineer who enjoys making subversive technologies — she also makes electronics kits and teaches people how to build things. In the article I'm writing, I'm not talking about Limor Fried, female engineer, but rather, Limor Fried, engineer. In our interview, though, we did talk about how it is to have to prove herself and make sure everything is completely watertight because she knows she'll get more flack because she's female. She was particularly psyched that when she released her cell jammer, Wavebubble, that nobody mentioned her gender in the writeups about it, just focusing on the technology. When I think about that, it pisses me off to the nth degree. Who cares what our genders are? Why would that make us a better or worse engineer or technologist or architect? (Terrible sexism in architecture — only 12% of women actually become partners in an office.) I don't want it to be an issue. And yet this whole Dotster thing shows again that it is. I shared the Dotster press release on a technology-related list I've been on for 11 years. From two people on the list, I got a lot of "suck it up" and "use your feminine wiles to your advantage, play the game." I am not naive; I continue to work in technology. But if we don't fight these issues and raise the problems, it's bullshit. We'll earn less money, come back from maternity leaves and find our earning possibilities decreased, something that happens for women, not men. I can't believe that we still deal with this shit.

  8. What a Load! I looked at the pictures and read your allegations and decided to do my own analysis.
    How can you possibly compare this to what Go Daddy is doing? If you use a search engine you'll find that their model Candace Michelle is an accomplished porn actress (not that I have a problem with that), that Go Daddy constanly uses women in sexually suggestive positioning and there should be no confusion that the use of this and other models is not only sexist but patently offensive to anyone who doesn't want to be seen, or viewed as an object for sexual gratification.
    But I don't like to take a position without doing research so here is what I did before I responded to your blog.
    1 – I went to the Dotster web site to read all PR available and toured the website as well.
    2- I went to several high profile companies (medicine, cosmetics, food, automotive, technology, education, etc.) and reviewed the models used, the way they were clothed and the product\services they were promoting.
    3 – I researched various periodicals, including Forbes, Time, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, Car and Driver, USAIR's Frequent Flyer Magazine, etc., to review models used, the way they were clothed and the products\services they were promoting.
    4 – I went to the website for Go Daddy and looked at what they were promoting, the models used and the fashion in which it was delivered. It was quite enlightening. Have you done it yourself?


    Go Daddy is one step away from Penthouse. Look at the French Maid segment ( I have provided the link below for all of their commercials, i.e The Car Wash internet only version, The Christening, internet only version, that are even more offensive but you can simply go if you want to see just one example) and then explain to me what similarity exists between this company and Dotster.
    If you are willing to wreak havoc on any company as a result of their sexist behavior you'd be hard pressed to find a more deserving target than Go Daddy. If you are too lazy to visit the site then just pay attention to what is likely to be another exploitive, sexist, juvinile, degerative and patently offensive advertisemnt during this years NFL Superbowl. If you visit the Dotster website you won't find a barely dressed French Maid video segment explaining something in an overtly sexual fashion. Instead you'll read about small businesses who purchased services from Dotster in an attempt to enhance their business objectives, read about a way to promote your company, learn how to build a site, or enter a drawing for a new Corvette (that was a huge bonus for doing my research!). Guess what at least two of the four businesses featured are owned and operated by, wait, can it be, WOMEN? Suprisingly enough they aren't dressed like Candace Michelle, falling out of their clothes like whorish French Maids or pouting their BJ lips and flashing some cleavage in a wet T-shirt.
    Avon, Revlon, Calvin Klein, Colgate, Bayer-AG, Mercedes Benz, Sea Ray, Boeing, GMC. Chrysler, Ford, GE, Xerox, HP, IBM, UCLA, USC, University of Miami, Sony, United Entertainment, People Magazine, Kellogs, General Mill's and countless others use females to promote their products. Unlike Go Daddy, and just like Dotster, each of these companies models/representatives are dressed fashonably, professionally and within what anyone with an IQ above 60 would consider to be acceptable. All of these companies are attempting to sell various products/services/images using women in this effort.

    Time, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, Readers Digest, The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, C-Net and countless other publications all have planty of advertisments that feature females promoting various products and services from companies such as GE, Xerox, HP, IBM, Kellogs, General Mills, Chrysler, Ford, Mercedes Benz, Lexus. Many of these advertisements include female models dressed in clothing that appears very similar, if not identical, to those of the models featured in the Dotster Press Release which you so kindly provided. The Dotster models, like their peer's found in other publications, look to be no differently dressed so why are you suggesting that Dotster has engaged in the most sexist offensive PR ever?

    SO MOLLY exactly what is your problem? I think you have an agenda and not only is your agenda borne from one that is wholly subjective it is also false, misleading and an insult to the intelligence of anyone with an ability to reason. I see that tags that are of interest to you include PR. I can only deduct that that would mean you have an interest in this field at either a professional or personal level.
    Since you implore others to engage in a PR jihad against Dotster , yet you fail to find fault with Go Daddy's shameless baseful degradation of females I also am inclined to believe that you are employed by them in some capacity affiliated with marketing or public relations.
    In either case I like your call to action, the difference is that I'd target the same actions you suggest to Go Daddy,instead and their PR contact whose name is Noah Plumb. You can reach Noah to express your displeasure by calling him directly at 480-505-8800 extention 4157, or if you'd rather e-mail him you should direct your displeasure to

    But as I will always tell you, don't take my word for it. If you want to see the differences between Go Daddy and Dotster use these links and review the material for yourself —

    Go Daddy –

    Dotster –

    And Molly, just so you know, in the future if you decide to make such ridiculous one sided, subjective and misguided comments you should expect the flaming that you so richly deserve.

  9. Mensa, I think you may have misunderstood where you are. You're participating in a conversation with a number of people who are all acquainted with each other in real life, and who are having a respectful conversation. You've intruded with a obviously biased screed filled with non-sequitirs and ad-hominem attacks, and your core point seems to be "there is someone even more sexist in this industry!" I'm no lawyer, but I do know "there's someone even worse" is a farcically underwhelming basis for a defense.I do absolutely believe you looked at dozens and dozens of nearly-naked women acting in demeaning ways across multiple forms of media as part of your research for your comment on this blog. If you're going to pretend this offends you, it would behoove you to be consistent.Your tagline for your blog says "Why is everyone so worried about being PC?" To me, this reveals your resentment towards the fact that you can no longer control not just the topic of conversation, but also the words themselves that are used in the conversation. I am happy for Molly that you have such regard for her ruminations on her private blog that you think her opinion of this campaign will have a materially damaging effect on Dotster's business. If so great — it should.I suspect you're the sort of guy who goes around crowing about "letting the market decide". You might also be familiar with the seminal quote from the Cluetrain Manifesto, "Markets are conversations". You've chosen to ignore the conversation the target market is having, and instead are trying to shut the conversation down. This will have the opposite effect you desire. You may also wish to disclose your (fairly obvious) ties to the company in the future, as well.

  10. Mensa, you've got a lot of vim and vigor, don't you? Thank you for your comments and for the energy you put into your research. It seems that you didn't read my post that closely, however. The beginning of my post statesIt's not the fact that a trade show has booth babes: that's nothing
    new. It's that the Dotster Dots are "several of the most important
    women on the Internet." In
    a time where women's wages are actually decreasing, where women still
    fight to be recognized in technology (and not as a "woman in
    technology"), when only 12 of 100 speakers at O'Reilly's Web 2.0 Summit were female, couldn't there have been a better approach?As has been stated, it's not the booth babes or the hotties used to sell whatever. It's the fact that they're calling these people "the most important women on the Internet." Women's roles in technology get denigrated enough already. We don't need more of it. I've been told in other discussions to ignore it, suck it up and use my feminine wiles to my own advantage. I'm not naive, nor am I militant. I've worked in technology for 12 years and am now in another field where women do not ascend to leadership positions. So I will call it out when I see it. It's important.

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