An advertising start-up in Orange, Calif., is offering to help 100 Americans pay their mortgages -- if the homeowners convert their houses into massive painted ads for the business.
"It's a really good marriage for us to be able to help homeowners and for homeowners to be able to help us and bring attention to our business," said Romeo Mendoza, CEO of Adzookie, a mobile marketing firm promoting a local ad network.
For the lucky homeowners, Adzookie promises to cover the full costs of mortgages for between three months and one year, depending on how long the residents are willing to keep their exterior walls decorated with the company's logo.
Mendoza told AOL News he came up with the promotion after his 6-year-old daughter saw a "bank-owned" sign in front of a house on her way home from school and asked him what it meant.
"By the time we had driven home, I had figured out a way to help homeowners by paying their mortgages," he said.
Since launching the "Paint My House" initiative earlier this month, Mendoza says Adzookie has received about 10,000 applications -- an encouraging sign for the small company but also a sobering reminder of the economic hardships faced by many homebuyers.
"It's kind of depressing to a point, because most of these people need help," said Mendoza.
Working with an initial budget of $100,000, Mendoza planned a promotion that would assist 10 homeowners in paying their bills while adorning their homes with Adzookie's logos and social media icons.
But thanks to news coverage and social media buzz about the gimmick, Mendoza says his company has attracted the interest of other sponsors -- allowing Adzookie to paint an additional 90 homes and potentially share the ad space with other brands.
The contest is open to almost any homeowner in the United States -- no matter the size of the home or the size of the mortgage.
"It's not a big deal if it's off a major freeway," Mendoza explained. "We're not really concerned [about] it being the most high-visibility house -- it's about promoting local.
"They might not get the drive-through traffic, but they'll get enough attention."
The only things barring homeowners from taking part are municipal rules against advertising and, well, taste.
But plenty of people say they are willing to cover their home in a billboard if someone else will cover their mortgage.
"I'm a single mom, and I could certainly use the money," Kimberly Rae, of Largo Fla., told Bay News 9 after entering the contest.
"It could be condoms. It could be drink water," she said. "It doesn't matter to me. I don't embarrass easily."
"I could see it being not the most beautiful thing in the neighborhood, but it's temporary and it helps the home," he said. "What would you rather see? That [billboard] for three months or foreclosure signs and your neighbors leaving the neighborhood?"
Adzookie plans to start painting its first house next week. The company is still accepting applications on its website.
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