On an otherwise quiet, ordinary street in a suburb of Los Angeles one house seems to have gone crazy. Painted in neon bright colors with several ads is the house of Scott and Beth Hostetler, a couple who are otherwise good neighbors, say their neighbors.
Tacky Look in Exchange for Bucks
Some neighbors were so shocked at the Hostetler’s home’s new look that they even considered calling the police; others were merely angry and confused, but the explanation, given the state of the country’s economy is really quite simple. In exchange for turning their house into a giant billboard the Hostetlers will receive $2,000 per month from the marketing company behind the scheme, Brainiacs From Mars.
Romeo Mendoza, the CEO and founder of Brainiacs explained that his goal is to turn at least 1,000 homes across America into gigantic ads for his marketing firm. For every one of his endeavors he will pay the mortgage, for up to one year.
"If we roll it out to scale and impact the foreclosure crisis, that would be amazing," Mendoza, 42, said.
In April 2011 Mendoza floated his idea on his website. Since that date ten months ago he has gotten 38,000 applications to participate, from even places as far away as Japan and Russia.
Mendoza says he picked the Hostetlers because they are nice people, and he decided to choose the most deserving families, even if their homes are not on the busiest streets. Mendoza checks all relevant zoning laws to be sure advertisements and brightly painted homes do not violate any local codes of law before he puts up his ads.
The majority of applicants are from Nevada, California and Florida, the three states in the US hardest hit by the housing crisis. Mendoza says his idea can help people who are struggling to keep their homes.
"The response has been overwhelming," Mendoza says. "People are hurting, and struggling to stay in their homes. If we can help some of them, that would be great."
Mendoza says his plan is to advertise his company’s name and social media marketing tools in front of people’s homes in the hopes of getting the attention of some big companies, who he hopes will hire him based on the originality and quirkiness of his scheme. Brainiacs, says Mendoza is indeed already negotiating with some large companies to run their ad campaigns.
The neighbors however are not happy. One neighbor is willing to put up with the new look of the house for one month, even though the Holstetlers want to keep the ads there for six. Another neighbor, 80-year-old Bob Pancoast, said: "All the neighbors were a little upset at first. We thought they had gone off their rocker. But I guess it's a good idea for them."
"I don't think the program will be a success. It will be akin to graffiti – that's how people are going to look at it. They are going to run into zoning problems everywhere," said housing industry finance expert Charles Mclaughlin.
"There are definitely zoning issues in some cities, and we realize that. But we have really hit a nerve, and we can't let that stop us. Once people start seeing how it works, once they get it, the moment they realize it is paying people's mortgages, they are always on our side, because of this economy."