Monday, May 3, 2010

Location Awareness

There have been some new online drives to raise the visibility of homeless people in recent months. [See, for starters, which attempts to de-stigmatize the homeless by posting short video interviews with them about their plight.]

But in Austin last week, a nonprofit/for-profit collaboration -- between a local nonprofit, a billboard company and an advertising agency -- raised that visibility to even greater heights, literally. The nonprofit Mobile Loaves and Fishes, the Reagan Outdoor Advertising company, and the T3 marketing agency created what they called the "I Am Here" campaign, a combination billboard/mobile texting project to get Danny Silver, a local homeless man and former steelworker, off the streets.

For three days last week, the billboard, located off I-35 in Austin, asked passing motorists to text money to MLF for Silver; Silver and his wife, Maggie, were hoisted 50 feet to the billboard's catwalk, where they camped out during the campaign. The billboard read, "I am Danny. I am homeless. I am here." By the end of the week, with support from Mobile Giving, motorists texted some $1,200 to MLF in $10 donations and MLF gave the Silvers a mobile home.

Here's a video about the Silvers that was created as part of the campaign:

What do you think? Is this a mobile form of panhandling, give-ploitation, or simply a sign (groan) of the times? [It worked.]

Let us hear from you.

[Photo courtesy MLF)

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