The latest buzz on the streets of Austin is centered around those who live there. Homeless Hotspots is an experiment employing 13 homeless in the community to carry 4G wireless routers and serve as hotspots for SXSW visitors. Users can get connected in exchange for a donation- $2 for 15 minutes- payable directly to the homeless host himself over paypal.
The campaign, launched by ad agency BBH Labs, was intended as a “charatible innovation initiative” (according to their website homelesshotspots.org). Mass sentiment, however, seems to view the campaign as dehumanizing rather than inspiring.
One key flaw here is the t-shirts. Each Homeless Hotspot host is wearing a t-shirt that says: “I’m (fill in his/her name), a 4G hotspot.” The wording of this implies they are a product. Why not, “Need a 4G hotspot? Ask Me!” Switching around a few key words makes the message much more empowering.
What do you think? Is this program helpful or harmful?