Seeking to generate some creative buzz, Holland Mark Advertising recently paid a Boston panhandler $250 to appear in a self-promotional print ad some say is likely to stir up controversy.
The stark, black-and-white execution features the long-haired, gaunt street person, clad in windbreaker, jeans and a grubby hat, carrying a sign that reads, "Need money for liquor and handgun."
Small type below the photo proclaims, "It always stops you. A simple message, said in a fresh way. Holland Mark Advertising."
Agency staffers got the idea to use the panhandler in an ad when they saw the success he had trolling for change while carrying the sign.
Asked about possible ethical questions surrounding the use of an apparently homeless man in an agency promotion, Holland Mark chief creative officer Bob Minihan said: "He stood out. He was making more money [with that sign] than the other [homeless] guys. Why see him as a victim? He's sort of an entrepreneur with a different kind of lifestyle."