Homeless People Become 4G Hotspots In Charitable Marketing Stunt

It takes some doing to turn heads amid the media circus that is South by Southwest, but marketing firm BBH just that by transforming homeless guys into walking 4G WiFi hotspots. Promoters say the stunt is meant to bring the plight of the homeless to light, but there are also questions about whether or not the contractors are being exploited.

CNNMoney reports marketing firm BBH is paying its homeless contractors to stay equipped with WiFi hotspot gear outside an Austin convention center, wearing shirts that tell passers by how to log on for a suggested donation of $2 per 15 minutes.

Some are deriding the project for making a spectacle of a downtrodden portion of the populace. The firm claims to be doing right by its contractors financially, insisting it’s letting its contractors keep all the proceeds. Said one of the participants, “They’re giving us the opportunity to work. You’re providing a service for the public. It’s like an individual business.”

Turning the homeless into 4G hotspots [CNNMoney]


Edit Your Comment

  1. dicobalt says:

    $2 for 15min? More than a burger flipper makes.

  2. Doubting thomas says:

    Protesting against this is the worst kind of liberal BS. (There is conservative BS that is just as bad if not worse). These people have decided for the homeless folks who are voluntarily participating in this and reaping financial rewards for doing so, that it should not be allowed because it is “exploiting” them. What incredibly stupid BS. Yes ,t rusting someone with your expensive (relatively) electronic devices and allowing them to take 100% of the profits generated by them, on a 100% volunteer basis, thereby allowing them to earn money for food and other life necessities is exploitation.

    • 8bithero says:

      It’s the same way porn “exploits” women…even though they volunteer to do it.

      White Knighting at it’s best.

      • Bsamm09 says:

        Why do women make more than men in porn?

      • fredbiscotti says:

        I generally agree, although you’re making a huge assumption about the ability of people in these situations (homeless wi-fi stations and porno actors) to really give free and informed consent.

        Slippery slopes and all that.

        • Doubting thomas says:

          what slippery slope? The only slippery slope I see is allowing know-nothing bleeding hearts to get between people and a paycheck due to their own sensibilities.

          • sjackson12 says:

            Let me guess, you also have no problem with the “Bum Fights” videos.

            • Doubting thomas says:

              how do you stretch that far. In a Bum fight video people get hurt, no one is being hurt in this situation.

              • sjackson12 says:

                In both cases they are consenting to perform an act for a paycheck, no?

              • Kate says:

                You don’t know that. When you use someone for a marketing stunt, it’s rare that there isn’t some kind of down side to it.

          • fredbiscotti says:

            The slippery slope that involves free and informed consent. If you can’t see situations where people might engage in work that can be exploitative (ie pornography or homeless selling their likeness or bodies) because they are driven by coercion, addiction or mental illness, then you’re either lacking human empathy or willfully ignoring the facts of the matter.

            Regardless, your statement about “bleeding hearts” says more about your opinions that you realize.

            • Doubting thomas says:

              1. You have no way of knowing how much anyone realizes. I used the term bleeding hearts intentionally and specifically in this case because it is accurate and appropriate to the situation.

              2. The homeless people involved have given a free consent and would have to be at least partially informed so that they would be able to collect the money being digitally deposited in their name. If they do have a mental deficiency they are still not being harmed in the least by this situation.

      • sjackson12 says:

        And you know this because of your extensive research into the psychology of sex workers?

    • Jane_Gage says:

      I’d better see a W-9 from every one of these transient motherfuckers.

    • DragonThermo says:

      According to Marxism, by hiring a worker and paying them a wage in return for them to provide you with a service, you are EXPLOITING the worker.

      Using the Liberal outrage, McDonalds is “exploiting” the workers… Bank of America is “exploiting” the bank tellers. Goldman Sachs is “exploiting” the stock brokers and analysts.

      Giving homeless people a temporary job is a good thing. Hopefully they’ll use the money to improve their station in life and not go out and buy booze and drugs and continue their destitution.

      Then again, there may be no hope for them. The reason the rich get richer and the poor get poorer is because the rich continue doing what made them rich whereas the poor continue doing what made/keeps them poor.

      (Actually, Liberal BS is worse than Conservative BS. At best, Conservative BS is based on hippocracy, e.g., being “anti-gay” but soliciting gay sex in a public mens’ room. Whereas Liberal BS is based on lies and illogic, e.g., “From everyone according to their ability. To everyone according to their need.”)

  3. Cat says:

    They’re making a spectacle of a downtrodden portion of the populace?

    “They’re giving us the opportunity to work. You’re providing a service for the public. It’s like an individual business”

    “HELP! We’re being oppressed!”

  4. Thyme for an edit button says:

    Some are deriding the project for making a spectacle of a downtrodden portion of the populace.

    Yeah, the homeless should just stay invisible.

    Anyway, I’m off to be exploited by my employer. Providing a service in exchange for money. It’s exploitation of women, I tell you!

  5. curiositykt says:

    Yeah I heard an interview with the founder of this project this morning on the radio, and I totally fail to see how this is exploitative.

  6. HowardRoarksTSquare says:

    For shame – allowing someone the ability to pull themselves up by the boostraps and get into a better situation.

    They should do to the homeless what Rudy did in NYC – move them somewhere else and make the problem disapear

  7. AndyfromIL says:

    What about the homeless? Always walking around the city, why don’t we strap something to them?

    • Coleoptera Girl says:

      And pay them for it. You forgot about that part.

      • AndyfromIL says:

        I make no judgement, just noting that there is nothing new under the sun, and nothing you hear that has not already been on Seinfeld or Curb.

  8. The Porkchop Express says:

    Those who are deriding this project can feel free to go and pay the homeless to do nothing at all if they’d like.

    Are they being exploited? maybe, but they are volunteering to do so.

  9. Bsamm09 says:

    Do you have to be homeless for this? Hell, I’d chill out where ever they need me to for a few hours during the weekend for extra cash. Do they need people at the beach, Charleston Harbor or local hotspots?

  10. Straspey says:

    “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

    • HowardRoarksTSquare says:

      Build a man a fire and he’ll be warm for the day. Light a man on fire and he’ll be warm the rest of his life

  11. dolemite says:

    How’s this any different from a guy standing outside a business wearing a silly costume or sign? I see no issue with it.

    • Coleoptera Girl says:

      This! If anything, this is more dignified than a man dancing around in a Lady Liberty costume with a sign touting tax prep services!

  12. aja175 says:

    What’s to stop them from selling the hotspot? $50 now sure sounds better than $2/hr.

    • dolemite says:

      Well, unless you get 5 people using it, and it’s $2 per 15 min (not hour), so $8 an hour, per person. So they COULD get $16, $32, $64 per hour depending on how many people use it.

      • kosmo @ The Soap Boxers says:

        And how many people give the suggestion donation. Some (most?) people likely won’t pay anything.

        • Coleoptera Girl says:

          We won’t know until this has been run for a day. I want to see how this turns out, so I can decide if I have a little more hope in humanity or if I’ve found yet another opportunity to say, “I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.”

  13. TerpBE says:

    Can you smell me now?

  14. ajaxd says:

    BBH violated the basic rule of dealing with homeless – pretend they don’t exist and they are being criticized for it.

  15. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDave‚Ñ¢ says:

    I use homeless people to do my web searches for me. I have them go to the library and print out the results for a few shots of cheap vodka. Since I don’t have a printer, it saves me money and I feel like I’m doing something for the community.

  16. Chuck U Farley says:

    i have no problems with individuals choosing to do humbling work…the exploitation is that they are not guaranteed pay for their time. It’s essentially them begging for change still. They should be paid a fair or minimum hourly wage and any commission on top is theirs as well. That’s the problem. I wonder if they are entitled to file against BBH for not providing minimum wage?

  17. Herah says:

    The chances of me reading a homeless persons shirt to find out about this are ZERO. Avoid all eye contact, don’t look in the general direction. Carry on.

  18. scoosdad says:

    Kramer and Newman did it first on Seinfeld with rickshaw rides by the homeless.