Bumvertising is exactly what it sounds like: Advertising on the homeless.
It started in 2005 when 22-year-old University of Washington grad Ben Rogovy was looking for a cheap way to promote another company he started.
Here’s a quick overview:
The Bumvertising debate has attracted local, national and even international media attention.
Here are the Seven Keys to Responsible Marketing, and how Bumvertising measures up:
- It’s not casting responsible, as long as they exploit people desperate for any kind of help.
- It’s hard to determine if its environmentally responsible, since Bumvertising’s ads are taped to the bottom of the used cardboard signs used by the homeless.
- It’s not socially responsible.
- It’s not strategically responsible. This was a tactical idea executed without forethought or consideration of the consequences. Even fringe advertisers run the risk of implying “use our product, you’ll end up like this.” Online poker, casinos and alcohol couldn’t be a worse choice.
- It’s not execution responsible. This makes sandwich board marketers look dignified.
- It’s not message responsible. Bumvertising clearly doesn’t respect its audiences. And while you might think Bumvertising does break through the clutter, to many, the homeless are like ads already—they’ll avoid them whenever possible.
- It’s not ROI responsible. After three years, the only advertisers appear to be other companies started by Bumvertising’s founder, PokerFaceBook.com and StrategicDomination.com—two companies that won’t be appearing on any “fastest growing companies” lists anytime soon. In fact, the first company appears to be abandoned, and both companies shill Bumvertising prominently above the fold.
Bumvertising is a bad advertising idea. It exploits the homeless, no respectable company would associate itself with the practice and it simply doesn’t work.
As an advertising medium, Bumvertising is a failure, but as a way to gain media attention it’s a success.
Rogovy knows this. The Bumvertising blog now features street videos that include altercations with a homeless man and other videos that will be passed around for all the wrong reasons, racking up site visits and increasing Google Adwords revenues.
Like MTV’s Jackass and so many YouTube exploitation videos, it’s outrageous and brings out the worst in human nature.
Even The Daily Show considered Bumvertising unscrupulous:
Ben Rogovy is on his way to becoming the Johnny Knoxville of marketing. He doesn’t mind being known as the “poverty pimp” as long as he continues to get more media attention.
Which makes the whole Bumvertising concept that much more insipid.
Bumvertising: Welcome to the Responsible Marketing Hall of Shame.
I can’t think of a single category that Bumvertising fits, can you?
Comment below to weigh in.
Thanks to my colleague Victoria Ostrovskaya for the tip.