Using the homeless for advertising

A Seattle entrepreneur is putting the homeless and panhandlers to work for a low-cost marketing campaign. He says it’s a highly visible (but aren’t we looking away whenever we see a homeless?) way to publicize his Web site — he calls it “bumvertising.”


In exchange for food, water and an undisclosed amount of cash, panhandlers agree to hold their please-give-sign and Ben Rogovy’s green sign advertising his Web site, an online directory that connects “poker players from around the globe.”

“They’re better off advertising for me than not advertising, I wish I could help them more,” Rogovy said.

Nicole Macri, at the Seattle King County Coalition for the Homeless said Rogovy is exploiting the panhandlers. They are poor, homeless and begging, “they’ve lost their free choice” and have no choice but to agree to Rogovy’s request. “It really reinforces stigmas about people who are homeless — that they’re not humans, that they’re just signposts,” Macri said.

She added that the practice and the term “bumvertising” have to go. On his Web site, Rogovy also refers to his homeless employees as vagabonds and derelicts.

Via Mit advertising lab ABC News.

Related: Homeless people as walking ads?