Question of the Day: Why Don’t Companies Advertise on Homeless People?

Callum Linley, an 18-year-old reader from Melbourne, Australia, writes to say:

So why aren’t there companies lining up to advertise on homeless people?

My guess is it’s an image problem – not wanting to be associated with the “failure” of being homeless. But wouldn’t that be compensated by the fact you could put forward the idea that you are a socially responsible and sympathetic company who cares for the less fortunate?

Well, the world already has given us Bumvertising and homeless people as wi-fi hotspots, and I wouldn’t be surprised if homeless advertising has shown up on TV (hey Simpsons and Family Guy and South Park fans etc., let us know). But how would you answer Callum’s question?  Does it fall into the category of:

a) Questions that are so obvious that they don’t need an answer; or

b) Questions that should be asked more often, but aren’t; or

c) Something else entirely.

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  1. Patrick says:

    Believe it or not there are companies that use to (I am not sure if they still do but I wouldn’t be suprised) pick up homeless people in Detroit, put them on a bus and drive them to hold advertisement signs in the suburbs. I can’t tell you how many homeless people I met who told me they were familiar with my community because they “worked” there.

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  2. David Rasmussen says:

    Homeless beggars are often considered to be a menace. For example, when homeless beggars camp out on medians of congested streets, they disrupt traffic flow and make unsafe streets less safe. The danger is to the people driving by and to pedestrians in the area as drivers become more distracted than they would otherwise be. The danger is also to the homeless beggars, as they frequently run in and out of traffic. It is quite obvious why no company would want to advertise in this situation. Further, there are legal issues to consider for city governments who do not take sufficient action to prevent this danger.

    Let’s generalize further. Let’s point to examples where the behavior of homeless beggars may not represent a safety risk to those around them. Does not the homeless lifestyle tend to be a major health and safety risk for those who live this way?

    Now let’s think of the brand. Do I want my restaurant to be thought of in conjunction with dumpster food? Do I want my hygiene product to be thought of in conjunction with head lice, body odor, and stains?

    Homelessness is an issue you address head on and prevent. If you want to do a favor for a homeless person, get them a bicycle such they they might have transportation and be able to hold a job. Or, develop a personal relationship.

    Or, ignore and hope it goes away. Per a survey in the SF Chronicle, most all of the money to homeless beggars comes from young and naive people unaware of the unhealthy lifestyles and addictions they are sustaining for others.

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