A California-based public relations firm is offering paid protesting services to its clients.
Crowds on Demand, out of Beverly Hills, offers “protests, rallies, flash-mobs, paparazzi events and other inventive PR stunts,” according to their website. “We provide everything including the people, the materials and even the ideas.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, the company hired protestors to lobby the New Orleans City Council on behalf of a power plant operator, however the operator claims it only hired Crowds on Demand to bring supporters to the meetings, but did not know paid actors were involved. Each actor was reportedly paid $60 to attend the meetings, and $200 to speak on behalf of the power plant.
Actors were also hired to protest a Masons convention in San Francisco, and to act as paparazzi and fans for an L.A. life coaches conference.
“Are you looking to create a buzz anywhere in the United States?” the firm’s website asks. “At Crowds on Demand, we provide our clients with protests, rallies, flash-mobs, paparazzi events and other inventive PR stunts. These services are available across the country in every major U.S city, every major U.S metro area and even most smaller cities as well. We provide everything including the people, the materials and even the ideas. You can come to us with a specific plan of action and we can make it happen.”
The website also claims the firm has “made campaigns involving hundreds of people come to action in just days.”
On the website’s Protest, Rallies, and Advocacy Page, the firm claims it has achieved results on campaigns involving “everything from ending institutional discrimination in a religious organization to getting refunds and compensation for hundreds of homeowners who bought hazardous land from a real estate firm to forcing a patent trolling company to back down.”
The firm also claims it can provide “talented and well-spoken individuals to advocate for the cause,” hire a team to phone-bank Congressional offices, and organize a crowd in as soon as 24 hours.
Crowds on Demand is being sued by Czech investor Zdenek Bakala who claims the firm was hired to run an extortion campaign against him by hiring protesters to march near his home in Hilton Head, South Carolina. Bakala also claims the firm hired people to send emails and call Aspen Institute and Dartmouth College, where Bakala serves on advisory boards, to encourage him to be removed. Additionally, Bakala accuses Pavol Krupa, a Prague investment manager, of hiring the firm and says Krupa has threatened to continue the campaign against him unless Bakala pays him $23 million.
The firm was reportedly started in 2012 by Adam Swart, who got the idea while on vacation in Europe and walking down the stairs of an airplane in Estonia. “Wouldn’t it be great to be waving to a cheering crowd right now?” he said in an interview. “I had the same thought as I returned home to the states. Life can be very cold at times, and nothing makes people happier than having people cheer for them.”