Monday, March 9, 2009

Pimp This Bum

Sean Dolan and his dad wanted to develop a website to test a marketing strategy they planned on using for a local, mom and pop store. Then Sean had an idea: why not test their marketing savvy while doing some good? And www.pimpthisbum.com was born.

"We wanted to insult people's sensitivities so that they would go to the site and see Tim, and people seem to have fallen in love with him. He's funny and doesn't blame the world for his situation," Kevin Dolan told journalists.

The site features a picture of Tim holding a hand-drawn, cardboard sign, along with videos. Visitors can donate using their credit cards and others have gone by the spot at which Tim panhandles to donate food, or simply say hello. But the real draw is Tim, himself. Visitors can ask him questions and he answers directly - as in "no holds barred;" while often (darkly) humorous, Tim does not varnish the truth of his plight.

Further, Tim says there are others behind him. "I'm the world's first online bum. I'm the pioneer, but I've got friends behind me. If I don't get this right, it ain't gonna work for them."

This week, the Houston-based former manager is entering a Seattle detox and rehab center, which the facilities are providing free of charge. There are plans to air webcasts of his progress. Today, he will shave his beard and trim his hair in a podcast, prior to entering the program: a symbolic notion to start his new life.

Some homeless advocates deride the Dolans' approach, as do some bloggers and commenters. However, Tim himself says he "roared with laughter" when Sean Dolan approached him with the idea and thought it was "just crazy enough to work."

And, so far, for him, it has.

© C Harris Lynn, 2009

No comments: