Blog: Making hotspots out of the homeless at SXSW

By thetinyempire on 20 March 2021

>"Homeless Hotspots." Nope, not the biggest buzz band from SXSW, but one of the biggest talking points from it, as ad agency BBH (NOT officially affiliated with the festival, we hasten to add) employed 13 homeless people to act as 4G hotspots, selling access to allow frustrated bloggers to update their tumblrs in the midst of the wi-fi-sapping new band frenzy. The company claim they're Big Issue sellers for a new generation. Alex Fahey has his say and wonders where festival sponsorship will go next.

>By now we’re all used to being victims of targeted advertising; Google, Facebook and our mobile network are all in on the act. They prey on our inability to keep to ourselves what we ‘like’, they are, unlike my local librarian, overtly helpful by recording what I search for and to cap it all they make me feel more popular than I actually am.


>So, in a world where technology is now reaching an ever increasing populous the advertisers are now keen to be even more inclusive as reported by The Stool Pigeon, by offering the Texan homeless community the chance to become 4G Wireless hotspots during SxSW. No house? No money? No worries. Why be targeted by an advert when you can become the target yourself.


>For all of their money-led morality faux pas and their ignorance of sensitivity advertisers can’t be blamed for their lack of opportunism. 


>Opportunity is the key word for festival advertisers; name a stage, be the beer brand or if you’re rolling in it, sponsor the whole festival! BBH, the…ahem…brain behind the scheme have done their best in lowering the bar for advertising, when people thought it had already reached the dirt.


>There’s already the technology in place where festival attendees themselves can become walking opportunities. The wristbands have the potential to contain drinks vouchers, update social network sites with which band you’re watching and to add some old-school-too-much-dope hippy perspective, track your every move.


>So where will festival advertisers go next?


>Football-Style banners for the crowd - Yes, they’re far too large, intrusive and not ideal if you want to see the bands but from an advertisers point of view think of the viewing figures, especially if the festival is being shown on TV.


>Ticket Sponsors - Ask a big named stationers if they’d like to sponsor the physical tickets, guaranteeing that at least 50,000 additional people see the brands name before they arrive at the festival. The pencil sales will be through the roof.  Hurry though, this deal needs to be done before it’s paperless tickets all round. 


>Paint the grass - Cricket is a gentlemen’s game and if it’s good enough for them…It may take a keen eye for this work successfully but paint the main stage grass in a brand’s logo. It’ll give those 11am acts something to look at until the punters arrive.


>Despite the stifled giggles upon reading the original article, using the homeless as wi-fi hotspots, does still pose serious moral questions. Should everyone be exploited as they are at branded festivals or should, as with the potential of electronic wristbands, the exploitation be hidden from view


>What do you think?

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