Yet Another Offensive Aspect of "Homeless Hotspots" / by dan turner

Let's put aside the obvious patronizing and exploitative features of the BBH-marketing-firm-driven "homeless hotspot" stunt. That's an exercise left to the reader. What I want to focus on are the assumptions, stated by BBH's Saneel Radia on Marketplace, that (1) this is simply using the Street Sheet "model" and (2) that the point of writing, editing, printing, and distributing a newspaper by the homeless and about homeless issues is all about... getting a wee bit of social interaction.

What we're doing is we're taking a model that exists already -- street newspapers. It's really that social interaction point, the ability for them to express themselves, to be a bit entrepreneurial. Again, if you really get into the experience, it is the opposite of condescending. It's very empowering, actually.

I call multiple, steamy layers of BS. Have you ever read Street Sheet? It's usually well made, insightful, and brings to attention issues affecting millions of people that you don't see on CNN. Just recently, the San Francisco-based Street Sheet collected position statements from candidates for District Attorney, had been active in the issue of making MUNI (local public transit) free for youth, and been on the scene at various Occupy protests. Hey, marketers: there's value in content, and content is not fungible.

Also, the process of reporting, writing, editing, producing, and distributing an actual product (as opposed to, say, doing whatever marketing firms do) keeps a person's mind sharp, which is hard to do when you can't afford an iPad or are engaged in daily work beyond survival, and provides skills and job training. There are many stories of homeless people pulling themselves up, as the saying goes, through the work street newspapers provide.

So, those are the "models" street newspapers provide. You think all a homeless person wants is to be graced by your patronizing presence for a few moments, in exchange for a few pennies?

Go market yourself, Saneel.