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US net entrepreneur sticks ads on bums

'Poverty pimp' slammed for 'Bumvertising'

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A US net entrepreneur has solved his lack of advertising budget problem by paying beggars to stand motionless beside Seattle Highway exit ramps with ads proclaiming his wares, the Seattle Post Intelligencer reports.

Ben Rogovy, 22, wanted to promote his website for poker fans, but was a bit short in the wonga department. Inspiration struck, however, when he was looking at a cardboard sign commonly held by bums hoping for a hand-out beside the city's freeway exits.

Rogovy explained: "So much traffic goes by these sign holders, I thought, 'Wouldn't it be cool if they could advertise themselves and me at the same time?' "

He then hit the streets in search of bums willing to add his poster to their own advertising material. He recalled: "I was a little nervous when I walked up to the first guy. I was expecting all kinds of questions, but the first thing he asked was, 'Do you have any tape?' He understood exactly what I wanted to do."

Rogovy now has around 12 vagrants "Bumvertising" his site. He pays them "a bit of food and water, plus $1 to $5, according to each beggar's relative value, based largely on traffic patterns".

Rogovy admitted: "I am fascinated by these people, out there from dawn to dusk. Some of them were working longer days than I was."

Naturally, homeless rights campaigners are up in arms about the whole thing, dubbing Merc-driving Rogovy a "poverty pimp" and calling Bumvertising "craven exploitation". He is unconcerned, and concluded: "Possibly insensitive. Definitely accurate." ®

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