Branding agency BBH created a stir when it rolled out its "Homeless Hotspots" initiative at Austin's South By Southwest tech festival.
The shameless marketing stunt fitted homeless people with mobile Wi-Fi transmitters, essentially transforming Austin's droves of aimlessly wandering indigents into human wireless hubs.
The "Homeless Hotspots" were given "I'm a 4G hotspot" T-shirts to don whilst roaming the streets, emitting Wi-Fi signals into the ether.
British brand strategist Luke Scheybeler was not amused by the guerrilla marketing technique. He bashed BBH's efforts, calling the "Homeless Hotspots" campaign a "dystopian, shameful, hideous, patronising, dehumanizing idea," according to the Daily News.
Saneel Radia of BBH responded to criticism of their "branding initiative," saying, "Obviously there's an insane amount of chatter about this, which although certainly vilified us, in many ways is very good for the homeless people we're trying to help."
Her point is well taken. "Homeless Hotspots" was originally envisioned as a charitable endeavor. People can tip the hotspots whatever they want for using their connections, and the hotspots themselves are allowed to keep all the profits. The execution may have been a bit distasteful, but the idea was well intentioned.
See a promotional video for "Homeless Hotspots" below.