Having drawn criticism for this ‘Homeless Hotspots’ project BBH Labs has defended its intentions.

“Obviously, there’s an insane amount of chatter about this, which although certainly villianizes us, in many ways is very good for the homeless people we’re trying to help: homelessness is actually a subject being discussed at SXSW and these people are no longer invisible.”
The firm is a marketing company, but it insists this is a purely altruistic initiative and it made no money out of it.
It added: “We are not selling anything. There is no brand involved. There is no commercial benefit whatsoever.”

Look how happy he is now that he has a job with reliable pay and new clothes!... much better than being homeless with no hope
Look how happy he is now that he has a job with reliable pay and new clothes!... much better than being homeless with no hope

From the article -
"I would say that these people are trying to help the homeless and increase awareness.... We get to talk to people, maybe give them a different perception of what homelessness is like."


A marketing agency touched off a wave of criticism and debate when it hired members of the local homeless population to walk around carrying mobile Wi-Fi devices, offering conferencegoers Internet access in exchange for donations.

BBH Labs, the innovation unit of the international marketing agency BBH, outfitted 13 volunteers from a homeless shelter with the devices, business cards and T-shirts bearing their names: "I'm Clarence, a 4G Hotspot."
It paid each participant $20 a day, and they were also able to keep whatever customers donated in exchange for the wireless service.
"We saw it as a means to raise awareness by giving homeless people a way to engage with mainstream society and talk to people," he said. "The hot spot is a way for them to tell their story."

The human hot spots seemed unconcerned as well. One volunteer, Clarence Jones, 54, said he was originally from New Orleans and became homeless in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

"Everyone thinks I'm getting the rough end of the stick, but I don't feel that," Mr. Jones said. "I love talking to people and it's a job. An honest day of work and pay."

Homeless people sign up through HomelessHotSpots.org to connect customers to the Internet outside of urban business centers and events.

He told us he has been homeless for 6 months, after he was laid off from his job. He couldn't pay his bills and had bad credit so he moved into a homeless shelter a few blocks away from the convention center.

He's happy that his case manager from the homeless shelter got him this gig with Homeless Hotspots. He said it feels like he's running his own business. Unlike the other companies that come in, Mark feels that at least BBH is getting more involved and interacting with them personally.

A comment made by a Youtube user on the video -

"People don't really pay attention to the homeless anyway. I've been homeless and if I had been offered any kind of work I would have been extremely happy. Not all homeless people are crazy bums, just the majority. These hotspots draw more attention to the homeless and gets them to do something somewhat productive, while allowing the homeless to get a little money in their pockets. What's so wrong with that? Give the homeless a break man. Some of them are people to, lol." -