Ad agengy Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH) has come under fire for their use of the homeless people of Austin Texas as wi-fi hotspots during the SXSW festival.
Think 'Big Issue' sellers for the modern public.
The experiment was conducted by giving 13 homeless people in the festival are 4G hotspot devices, with which they can charge the public $2 (£1.30) for 15 minutes of internet access. This would modernise their archaic model of earning money by selling the material commodity of a street newspaper, that nobody ever really pays for or reads.
Understandably, to some (and us initially) the project seems...odd to say the least. It's come under strong criticism and appraisal at the same time, with words such as "unseemly," "wrong" and "inspirational" being thrown about to create a split public opinion.
Quite the controversy. Homeless people in Austin as HotSpots. Ive done my reading, seems like a brilliant idea to me. #HomelessHotSpots— Cameron DeArmond (@CameronDeArmond) March 12, 2012
BBH have taken to their blog to address the huge amount of viral discussion surrounding this public display, seeing the sheer publicity surrounding their experiment as nothing short of a god-send, placing the spotlight firmly on those who need public support. But they did make abundantly clear that some of the allegations flying round were just not true: the homeless "hotspot managers" kept all the money they earned, and there is no commercial benefit to any company from this.
They have said they're now working on providing a content channel of media created by the homeless community, amalgamating one of the main benefits to the Big Issue and creating what we see to be a rather novel (if still slightly weird to grasp) idea to raise awareness for support of a community that really needs it.
Source: Homeless Hotspots