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Will shill for food
September 20, 2005 10:12 AM   Subscribe

Oh... My... God. I can't tell if this is a hoax, but it would seem genuine enough if it weren't so surreal. I mean... advertising. On homeless sign boards. I'm going to go hold my head under the bathwater until I stop struggling, now.
posted by shmegegge (72 comments total)

 
via
posted by shmegegge at 10:12 AM on September 20, 2005


Um yeah, the likelihood of my giving money to a beggar who's also advertising for some schlock shop is zero. And the chances that I'd do any business with a company that uses bums to market itself is also zero.

There's a deep, deep wrongness about this. I hope its a hoax as I can't even imagine any marketing scum actually thinking this would be a good idea.
posted by fenriq at 10:15 AM on September 20, 2005


So, they're paying them minimum wage for every hour they stand out there with their sign...right?
posted by Specklet at 10:15 AM on September 20, 2005


Yeah, it's real. Its been in the regular news...
posted by delmoi at 10:17 AM on September 20, 2005


i think it's a great idea.
posted by keswick at 10:22 AM on September 20, 2005


Everything old is new again.
posted by Otis at 10:23 AM on September 20, 2005


Glen the angry bum, although in consideration for the position, takes no pride in sign building or maintenance, and therefore has not yet been offered a contract.

Hah! OK, yes, there's something deeply wrong with this...but you've *got* to laugh! It's fucking hilarious, in the way that only sick things that get right to the core of what's broken, rotted, and bleeding pus in the soul of our culture can be. And those kinds of things can be pretty damn funny.

I'm not convinced it's real just because it's been on the "regular news". The "hunt naked chicks with paintballs" thing was in the reg'lar news and that was fake, right?
posted by freebird at 10:24 AM on September 20, 2005


I'm not surprised that it was a poker site given their competitor's actions.

I'm not at all surprised which only makes it all the more depressing.
posted by purephase at 10:25 AM on September 20, 2005


freebird, please provide more information about hunting naked chicks with paintballs.
posted by odinsdream at 10:27 AM on September 20, 2005


Meanwhile, outraged regular folks continue to wear product placements on their clothing, and actually pay a premium for the privilege.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:28 AM on September 20, 2005


I'm really hoping this is a hoax. Check out the "game" on the site. Or not. Jesus.
posted by Specklet at 10:28 AM on September 20, 2005


do they also beat up each other?
posted by matteo at 10:32 AM on September 20, 2005


Would it not be interesting if the advertising company is a realtor one? Just think about it, realtors advertising via homeless.
posted by dov3 at 10:33 AM on September 20, 2005


Weapons-grade pandemonium, yep. It is one hell of an amazing marketing trick to get people to pay for your logo to be on their chest or butt or where ever. It's almost devious enough to make me believe in the Devil.
posted by fenriq at 10:34 AM on September 20, 2005


Web Entrepreneur Banks on 'Bum-vertising'
posted by Serena at 10:35 AM on September 20, 2005


There was a pizza place in Portland that did something similar. And the company that I work for hires near homeless to hand out coupon books (though we pay about $8 an hour. Which seems like a lot, until you do it and put up with the mass of humanity... To value my own dignity, I wouldn't do it for less than $12...)
posted by klangklangston at 10:36 AM on September 20, 2005


Pizza Schmizza!
posted by mullingitover at 10:38 AM on September 20, 2005


And the chances that I'd do any business with a company that uses bums to market itself is also zero.

Dude are you saying that you would boycott those businesses who advertise in The Big Issue? That's cold.
posted by three blind mice at 10:38 AM on September 20, 2005


I agree with fenriq and specklet both.

If some company's going to enlist bums in an advertising campaign they should pay at least minimum wage for sign-holding so the person won't need to beg the public. We get something like that Louisville, the latest I saw was a furniture store hired "human billboards" to advertise its liquidation sale. A few months ago Buehler's Market closed its store on 4th Street, and I'm pretty sure the people holding their signs were hired from the temporary labor place right across the street.

Note that this is different from a bum putting opinions, artwork, religious salutations or whatever on his/her own sign; then s/he's still "self-employed".

And weapons-grade pandemonium, I don't understand that either. Especially since "designer T-shirts" are just ordinary T-shirts with a logo on them; Mickey Mouse watches and "Official" sport steam logo caps struck me as bad enough. "Designer" clothing should be designed differently: you should be able to tell a Dior T-shirt from a Pucci one even without any damn labels.
posted by davy at 10:39 AM on September 20, 2005


Why would you put an ad on something from which most of us avert our eyes?
posted by fungible at 10:39 AM on September 20, 2005


three_blind_mice, that's different: they're selling a product, a published rag containing advertising. (Surely that's all the explanation you need?)
posted by davy at 10:42 AM on September 20, 2005


three blind mice, its a different set of circumstances that looks alot less like exploitation and alot more like they're actually trying to help people instead of make a clever buck (which is harder than making a buck clever).
posted by fenriq at 10:43 AM on September 20, 2005


It seems to me like someone is giving these homeless people "jobs" in a way. On some level, that's gotta be considered a positive thing.
posted by dopamine at 10:44 AM on September 20, 2005


If Pizza Schmizza truly did that, I will make sure we get our pizza from elsewhere for those office pizza parties. I'm looking into it for sure.

It is one hell of an amazing marketing trick to get people to pay for your logo to be on their chest or butt or where ever.

No kidding. I think folks who pay to wear logos on clothes are silly. I have been known to cut off the labels on my clothing to avoid unpaid advertising.

And dopamine, did you see what they're paying? $1-$5 and some fig newtons. That's not a good thing, that's not a job, it's absolutely humiliating and exploitive.
posted by Specklet at 10:48 AM on September 20, 2005


if they're not paid on the books and not at miminum wage then of course it's illegal, but i don't know if it makes me want to hold my head under the bathwater. interesting find though.
posted by poppo at 10:49 AM on September 20, 2005


'Bum-vertising'

Oh lord, oh ha ha, oh hee hee, oh my god.

{this sucks and I blame Ayn Rand}

Why would you put an ad on something from which most of us avert our eyes?

Nothing says "2 all beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese..." like a filthy piss soaked derelict.

The only good thing I could see come of this is to have move on or someone buy up some "bum-pressions" with a nice, "This billboard brought to you by compassionate conservatism"
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:49 AM on September 20, 2005


Yes, this guy is real. He's also going to be on the Daily Show sometime next week.

{this sucks and I blame Ayn Rand}

Me too...
posted by SweetJesus at 10:50 AM on September 20, 2005


Actually, he'll be on the Daily Show tonight, at least according to his Media page.
posted by SweetJesus at 10:52 AM on September 20, 2005


odinsdream, here you go: link.
posted by nlindstrom at 10:54 AM on September 20, 2005


Assuming they pay the bums, I don't see the problem.
posted by Eyebeams at 11:02 AM on September 20, 2005


Bumvertising is nowhere near as much fun to look as Buttvertising or Assvertising.
posted by fenriq at 11:09 AM on September 20, 2005


I'm with eyebeams. To those of you who find something "deeply wrong" with this -- could you unpack that for us a little? 'Cuz I'm just not getting the problem, I guess. I could even argue it's a good thing. (What other opportunities do those guys have to make money?)
posted by lodurr at 11:12 AM on September 20, 2005


i've had worse jobs.
posted by destro at 11:13 AM on September 20, 2005


Companies have been doing this for quite some time. In midtown NYC during the summer there's a homeless guy wearing a sign on pretty much every corner. What this "web entrepeneur" is doing is just a media stunt for a common practice. And for those of you who are 'boycotting' companies over this--get over it. People seem to love getting outraged over petty issues like this because it's so damn easy. If you're really concerned about the dignity and well-being of the homeless there are far better ways to address the issue than boycotting some stupid website. Save your outrage for something important.
posted by nixerman at 11:15 AM on September 20, 2005


poppo, it's actually considered legal because the bums would be out there panhandling anyway. Which I think is a horrible excuse.

Eyebeams, that's just it. They're "paying" them a couple bucks and a serving of food. Not acceptable.
posted by Specklet at 11:15 AM on September 20, 2005


What other opportunities do those guys have to make money?

You could spit on them for a nickel per gob.

You could buy space on their cardboard sign that says, "I failed out of life."

You could roll quarters down the street and make them chase them.

Hell, you could pay a real desperate crackhead to go into a restaurant pissing and shitting on himself.

It's all legal and they'll do it. Like you say: what other opportunities do they have?
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:20 AM on September 20, 2005


sonofsamiam, there's a difference. The actions that you are propose are demeaning and rob them of their last shred of dignity. Holding up a piece of advertising cardboard is not at all demeaning by comparison.

(Actually, in a former life, a long time ago, I earned a few bucks as a "sandwichman" with a piece of cardboard on the belly and one on the back, held together by two pieces of string).
posted by sour cream at 11:57 AM on September 20, 2005


I should add that I was not homeless at the time and did get paid by the hour (many of which were actually spend in a pub, without the cardboard ad thingy -- but since then, my work ethics have improved somewhat).
posted by sour cream at 12:03 PM on September 20, 2005


I personally think it's lame because it is exploiting their "bumness", otherwise they would just be sandwhich men. I'm all for anything that helps people get a few bucks if they need it (which is why when I give a homeless person money I don't tell them make sure and spend it on food now, whatever gives comfort is fine by me) and if this twerp was giving them a shower and shave and a few hots and a cot and some folding money in exchange for wearing signs, I'd say good on ya brother, he's not though, he's just another asshole exploting the awefulness of the human condition.

And I'll get outraged over whatever the hell I want, I got plenty to go around.
posted by Divine_Wino at 12:06 PM on September 20, 2005


assjack

Hunting for naked chicks with paintballs.

I got no problem with bum-vertising, as long as they get minimum wage. Since they're not, it seems illegal, and rightfully so. It's certainly not as offensive as drunkfight, or whatever that shit was.

Nobody's up in arms about the crushing blow to the "regular" sandwich-man industry? Isn't this the equivalent to hiring illegal immmigrants at subpar wages?
posted by mrgrimm at 12:11 PM on September 20, 2005


Taking advantage of someone who cannot afford to turn you down is robbing them of their dignity.

Pay the man minimum wage to hold a sandwich board. It's still cheap, as ad space goes. A local tax service employs people to stand outside dressed like Uncle Sam and Lady Liberty.

My personal opinion is that minimum wage laws are part of what forces people into poverty, but as long as we have them, they should be applied universally.

This may be technically legal, but I'm not going pretend I can see it as decent.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:11 PM on September 20, 2005


specklet, Pizza Schmizza gives $5, a slice of pizza, and a soda for someone to hold a sign that says "Pizza Schmizza paid me to hold this sign instead of asking for money" for 40 minutes.

That's $7.50 an hour and a meal. Better than minimum wage.
posted by karmaville at 1:01 PM on September 20, 2005


I don't think there's anything wrong with this. Some of these guys make a lot of cash panhandling, and probably don't feel they are being taken advantage of when offered a possibility to earn more.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:08 PM on September 20, 2005


In San Francisco, Frank Chu advertises on the back of his sign. He's not homeless, but crazy.
posted by greasepig at 1:09 PM on September 20, 2005


A few years back in the New Yorker, there was a piece about a guy who collected homeless signs on the theory that some time down the road, they would be valuable as folk art, just like various hobo-created items are. He would roll down the window and offer $50 or $100 for the sign, which would be accepted in most cases. I haven't heard any more about this hobby, but the guy in the middle picture could get some dough for his sign, IMHO.
posted by beagle at 1:37 PM on September 20, 2005


Well at least they aren't jobless "bums." Right?
And I'll get outraged over whatever the hell I want, I got plenty to go around.

That's right! Amen! It's your power as a citizen! Outrage now! If you're lucky it will lead to a sense of entitlement!

You should parcel out your indignation like that other dude, the one with the outrage meter, I forget his name.
posted by undule at 1:39 PM on September 20, 2005


Where I live it's not uncommon to see folks of all ages holding 7ft signs and banners on street corners for local businesses.

Most of these are retail, with a few Pizza joints getting into the mix. Simply put, Most of these people look like they "Really" needed the work, and it's advertising that pays off cause I noticed. and I "Never" notice adverts...

As long as the sign holder is getting the lawfully pay for the work, I see absolutely no issue with this. The difference between what's being described in the original post, and what I see on my Street corner is knowledgeable at best.
posted by DuffStone at 2:21 PM on September 20, 2005


As long as the sign holder is getting the lawfully pay for the work, I see absolutely no issue with this. The difference between what's being described in the original post, and what I see on my Street corner is knowledgeable at best. - Duff

OMG. I got Pwned by the spell checker. LOL... That should read:

As long as the sign holder is getting lawful pay for the work, I see absolutely no issue with this. The difference between what's being described in the original post, and what I see on my Street corner is negligible at best.
posted by DuffStone at 2:26 PM on September 20, 2005


No, it's not negligible, because these guys are clearly getting paid below minimum wage. If they could keep a job holding signs for minimum wage, they'd already be doing that, wouldn't they?

I imagine that, legally, the company is "buying space" on cardboard these guys already own, and therefore aren't obligated by law to pay minimum wage.
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:32 PM on September 20, 2005


In terms of the legality of not paying them minimum wage:

Elaine Fischer, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Labor and Industries, called Rogovy's venture "interesting," but said it did not appear to violate any work rules, mostly because the vagrants aren't, technically, working. "It's certainly unique, but I don't think it rises to the level of employment," she reasoned. "Our sense is that these people are doing what they were doing anyway so the way we see it, there's no clear employer-employee relationship." (via)

Wankers.
posted by Specklet at 2:48 PM on September 20, 2005


Anyone who doesn't think marketing scum won't sink to this level probably hasn't actually met many marketing scum.

There's a store owner in my town who just did this as a marketing stunt... he has signs from a famous local homeless person in his window and the famous local homeless person has his store's signs on his shopping cart.

According to a recent article in the local paper (which is probably the only reason this arrangement is in place, bald-faced publicity hunting) he's not paying the man because (paraphrasing) "he's an alcoholic and would just spend it on alcohol". He's not making a percentage donation to a homeless shelter. He's not paying for the man's therapy for alcoholism, or for job training. He's providing him with "Mama's home cooking". In other words, leftovers.

The upside of this is that we're in a fairly hippie-ish town and everyone I've talked to about this thinks it's totally not cool. So whatever small publicity he's gained has been wiped out by the massive backlash of folks who are now aware that this dude is an asshole, and who will not set foot in his store.

(Those who would call bullshit, I have a scanned article from the local paper regarding this, but a) it's not online for non-subscribers and b) I don't want to give this jerkoff any press. But email me if you really don't believe this could happen in our universe).
posted by Gortuk at 3:01 PM on September 20, 2005


I'd have to agree with Ms. Fischer. Very grudgingly.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:20 PM on September 20, 2005


So whatever small publicity he's gained has been wiped out by the massive backlash of folks who are now aware that this dude is an asshole, and who will not set foot in his store.

That's what I would think would stop PokerFaceBook.com's stunt: the panhandlers make less money or PokerFaceBook loses business.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:24 PM on September 20, 2005



Assuming they pay the bums, I don't see the problem.
posted by Eyebeams at 11:02 AM PST on September 20 [!]


Yep, I agree. Heck pay non-bum people to carry around advertizing, that's fine, too.

But any bum who has the jesus fish or god bless gets no money from me.
posted by Balisong at 3:36 PM on September 20, 2005


Since others have covered the worrisome ethics of this, I won't. What I wonder is why a business would want to attach this sort of imagery to their brand. When I think about Pokerfacebook I will think about homelessness. Which is a particularly bad association considering that people do lose their homes to gambling addictions. I'm not surprised that marketing folk can be this soulless, but that the companies don't realize how soulless this makes them look.
posted by elwoodwiles at 4:04 PM on September 20, 2005


whew! my first somewhat popular thread! whoopee!

so, yeah, I can see where the outrage comes from: it comes from the fact that this is sheer and bald-faced exploitation of the underprivileged and desperate.

Does it do them harm? That's a tough one. Dignity? Self-worth? Esteem? I don't know how to measure these things.

Personally, I'm not outraged, but I can see how many would be. I just think this world has gotten a little surreal for my immediate ability to comprehend. So I'm gonna go take a nap.

oh, and from their forums/guestbook/whatever:

Bumvertising is not a social agency. The purpose is not to "help panhandlers get back on their feet".... He is not being judgmental or trying to change anyone's lifestyle. He is just taking these guys at their word -- that they will do work -- he isn't paying much, he doesn't have much to pay, and he isn't asking much of them.... Why is it considered "unethical" for a business to do business instead of social work? I don't know if that's a member of the company or just some fan, but it's an interesting point of view, I guess.

Seriously, I'm all W to the T to the F up in here.
posted by shmegegge at 4:23 PM on September 20, 2005


I'm still trying to figure out how to get past $2k and rent an apartment on the Bum Game.
posted by CG at 5:47 PM on September 20, 2005


It seems pretty obvious that these guys were banking on the media attention, and they knew quite well that it would be negative. Think they got new customers by advertising with the homeless? Not a chance. New customers from the media and Outraged America? You betcha. They let others do the advertisting for them.
posted by zardoz at 6:38 PM on September 20, 2005


These panhandlers work about 3 blocks from my house in Seattle. I have never seen them with ads on their signs.
posted by jimfl at 7:31 PM on September 20, 2005


I also use the exits that these people panhandle just about every day and have never seen one of these signs. I'm not saying it hasn't happened, but I bet it's pretty rare and is _way_ overblown by this media coverage.
posted by freshgroundpepper at 7:48 PM on September 20, 2005


How weird. I'm reading this thread and suddenly there's a spot about 'bumvertising' on the Daily Show!
posted by somethingotherthan at 8:10 PM on September 20, 2005


fucking hilarious, in the way that only sick things that get right to the core of what's broken, rotted, and bleeding pus in the soul of our culture can be. And those kinds of things can be pretty damn funny.

I applaud you, sir.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:59 PM on September 20, 2005


Fricken hilarious bit on the Daily show...and sums up my feelings pretty well.

This guy uses bums, because they are destitute and will take whatever they can get. He pays them 75 cents an hour. Sure, it's consensual. I equate it with having nikes manufactured in 3rd world countries in sweatshops. Just 'cause they'll do it don't make it right.

The Daily show did a great job of capturing his disdain for these people, and his belief that these folks are out there by choice.
posted by prodigalsun at 10:28 PM on September 20, 2005


Guy definately got 'F'ed in the 'A on the Daily Show.

Man, I'd kill to work for those guys.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:27 PM on September 20, 2005


Jody Foster perhaps....hmmm...
posted by Smedleyman at 11:28 PM on September 20, 2005


(obvious parody)
posted by Smedleyman at 11:28 PM on September 20, 2005


damn, wish I'd seen it. tomorrow's re-run it is!
posted by shmegegge at 11:52 PM on September 20, 2005


I'm not liking how Bumvertising is 'non-judgemental' in the Bum Game and more or less seems able to turn your life around.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:13 AM on September 21, 2005


I actually went to bumvertising.com the other day to see if someone had thought of the idea/bought the domain....
posted by matimer at 5:57 AM on September 21, 2005


That's right! Amen! It's your power as a citizen! Outrage now! If you're lucky it will lead to a sense of entitlement!

Um, screw you?
posted by Divine_Wino at 7:08 AM on September 21, 2005


This smacks of a hoax. However, I do think the company paid homeless persons (or reasonable facscimiles) to hold up the signs. I believe this was as part of a publicity stunt, as opposed to a plan to regularly engage homeless people in exploitation. (Granted, the stunt exploits them, albeit on a somewhat more limited level.) The stunt has turned into an email forward that no doubt implores many people to visit the company's website. Media coverage also spurs people to visit the website. For example, I received the email last month and subsequently visited the company's website. Last night, my husband was watching the Daily Show when a segment on the concept aired. I punched in the website and started reading. When the show went to commercial, the website started to groan under the strain of West Coast traffic. I wrote up a blog entry on my marketing site, noting that I felt this was all a big publicity stunt. As part of the entry, I noted that Google had 18,600 hits for "bumvertising" and that I expected this to now rise. Flash forward to this morning....There are now 19,300 hits in Google.

The company doesn't need to hire a homeless person (or a friend dressed as one?) ever again. They've created a stunt along the lines of the Subservient Chicken. It's not about bumvertising -- it's about publicity. Free advertising. No need to pay anyone $3.
posted by acoutu at 11:28 AM on September 21, 2005


This was on Jon Stewart last night, by the way, and it was pretty horrible. The last scene we see as it cuts away to the add is one of the homeless women asking this guy if he could please change the name and he says he's working on it.
posted by dreamsign at 4:24 PM on September 21, 2005


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