Turn your home into a billboard in exchange for your mortgage payment?

 Money 2011 04 05 Technology Adzookie Adzookie Housead.Top Imaginary Foundation's Nick Philip just IM'd me: "Would you turn your house into a billboard to be free of mortgage payments for a year?" He's referring to the marketing gimmick/PR stunt of Ad firm Adzookie, who are looking to pay people's mortgages in exchange for turning their homes into giant advertisements for the company. (Mock-up seen here.) They haven't painted a single home yet, but the campaign seems to be working anyway. (Ahem.) According to CNN, the company only has $100,000 budgeted for the whole thing, so I'd imagine chances of getting chosen are slim. Anyway, to answer Nick's question... No. I would not. "Turn your house into a billboard, get free mortgage"


  1. HOA’s and community codes come to mind.

    But If I was headed for foreclosure, i’d be all over it. Still, if the house isn’t near lots of passing eyeballs, what’s the point?

  2. Very cool. Waiting for Good Vibrations to paint a house with a big vibrator! [or maybe a butt plug] There could be countless lonely suburban woman ready for an ad of this nature.

  3. Seems like a good journalist would contrast this with the ad-skins people were putting on their VW New Beetles (and similar) 6 or 7 years ago. That is, do they work, or don’t they?

  4. As per Stjohn, most towns would forbit this. It’d have to be in an unincorporated area, and then it wouldn’t be worth it for the advertiser.

  5. I dunno; I _like_ the old ads you find painted on the sides of brick buildings here and these. I don’t think the version shown would work, especially in suburbia where your neighbors’ opinions matter and it isn’t expected… but in a downtown/main drag environment, and done tastefully (which the illustration clearly isn’t), I’d consider selling space to a company I respected.

    But they’d have to make me a better offer than that. Otherwise, the moment they stop paying, I start creatively repainting it. And they really don’t want me getting creative.

    1. @technogeek and Anon: If you read the article, it says that as long as you keep the ads up for three months or more, they will pay for repainting your house back to the original color.

  6. I’m fine with the idea, but I don’t see it getting past city codes and zoning enforcement.

  7. I suspect that, in real life, this would be “Turn your home into an insurance payout after your neighbors burn it down.”

    1. “Why yes, I did paint another ad on my toolshed telling neighbours about the convenient gas cans and matches available inside, but I don’t see what that would have to do with my settlement…”

  8. This sounds like a quick way to get your ass sued off by everyone around you for dragging property values down.

  9. even to an advertiser, the house would have to be highly visible (not set back too far) on a high traffic street… even then, the labor and cost of getting the ad to work with the surface of the house would be iffy.

    A “better” solution (for the advertiser, not the aesthetics of a neighborhood) would be to simply install billboards low to the ground on private front yards on high traffic roads.

    There could be a potential upshot to doing this. You’d end up with a nice privacy screen if you used the billboard right at your front yard’s property line that doesn’t have to look so bad when seen from from the inside of the property.

  10. A few years ago a guy I kind of casually knew had his house burn down right after finishing a big remodel project. One of the ideas he floated was turning the back side of the house into “The Million Pixel Home!” He was going to divide the side into little 2″ by 2″ sections and sell advertising or decorating space to anyone willing to pay. He set up a website and even made some sales but ultimately didn’t get enough interest to get the project started.

    1. The Million Pixel Home idea was for the rebuild, not the house that burned down. My bad for being unclear.

  11. Used to be you’d see barns out in the country with ads for “Mail Pouch Tobacco” or sometimes other products painted on them. On the other hand, I don’t see this as a realistic price except as an initial gimmick.

    Also, too many towns have laws against signs that might apply, in many cases even banning artistic paintings on walls of commercial buildings. As far as I can tell, my town doesn’t have that for houses – one of the main streets has a house with signs ranting about how the town council are corrupt and abusive building code inspections must be stopped (along with No Trespassing signs on the chain across the driveway to the apartments in back – I’d never want to rent from a landlord that paranoid.)

  12. Seems like a good way for this company to supply themselves with names and addresses of homeowners, which is surely the whole point.

  13. These days I find myself spending a lot of time driving around the deep south for work, as I was today. I think the ideal candidates for this advertising scenario are houses in unincorporated rural settings that are situated along major state highways. There are still many areas where there isn’t a viable interstate highway route, and so these state roads are still the major thoroughfares. Judging by some of the stuff I see along these roads, I doubt there are many restrictions on what you paint on your house.

  14. I live in a small community where the building inspector drives around looking for even the smallest home project and will insist on inspecting anything that falls within their jurisdiction.
    That guy would shit a brick if I tried to pull one of these.
    But then I’m not an empty shell of a human being that would resort to this in the first place.

    1. Building inspectors and the people in charged should be drummed out of office IMHO. That’s just someone who’s looking to pad their departments income, not someone who really cares about what the citizens/contractors are doing.

      I’d only be interested in something like this if they could do it with a skin, like vinyl (like tyvek house wrap) or something. I wouldn’t want layers and layers of paint put on over the course of a year. Sooner or later you can only paint something so many times before you have to strip it all off and start over.

  15. $100,000, that’s nothing, once you count in the cost of painting the houses, you could probably do about 5 houses. Considering they’d have to be in high traffic neighborhoods to be worth it, most people would probably be paying at least (bare minimum) $1500 a month for a mortgage. Multiply that by 12 months, and that’s $18,000 for a single house. 5 houses would be $90,000. Add in labour for painting, and you easily got $100,000. Not much bang for your buck if you ask me, considering you’ll probably turn into the most hated company in the country.

  16. Since I doubt they repaint it when the year is up, you’d have to factor the cost of repainting it yourself into your decision..

    Hardly matters to me, as I always seem to wind up in houses that aren’t very visible. Currently I’ve outdone myself — despite being smack in the midst of the town I live in, most people aren’t aware of the existence of the street I live on or of my house upon it..

  17. In our neighbourhood an artist got into trouble for putting all sorts of his sculptures on the lawn, with a sign advertising them. Almost every food of his lawn has some sort of ugly stonre sculpture on it. The city made him take down the sign, since that went into all sorts of issues re: advertising codes. The place is still an eyesore but the sculptures themselves can’t be removed.

  18. wow, this just jogged my memory of two “christ houses” in the St Louis area. There were two houses that used large changeable type to write biblical prophecies on the sides of their houses. One was at Arsenal and Wabash, viewable from the Arsenal bridge. The other was in Manchester,MO on Manchester road near what is now the Dierbergs. On the Arsenal one, the inscriptions disappeared one day, replaced by life sized cut outs of farm animals, but with the Manchester house, the local government fought a bitter battle with the man to force him to remove his ramblings from public view. The Manchester government also fought another high profile battle near the christ-house that forced a family to re-paint their house because it was purple.

  19. I’d love to see an advertising firm that was very anti-HOA and pro property owners’ rights pay both the mortgage and any fines imposed by the HOA for anyone willing to have their home painted with such an ad.

  20. I would definitely go for it. Take the years worth of mortgage payments, throw them in a fairly conservative investment, and by the time my daughter was ready for higher education she could attend the institution of her choice debt free. I’d be willing to live in an ad for 12 months to give my kid a decent start at an adult life.

    Think of it like Woody Allen living under the Thunderbolt rollercoaster in “Annie Hall”.

  21. Considering I just got told I’m screwed about the bank covering up the rotting & molding floor in the house I bought… hell yes I’d do this. I’d free up a decent amount of money I’ll need to redo most(probably all of) the floor in the house.

    btw if you look at a house that’s bank owned & the carpet & paint are really fresh.. start looking around for what they covered up.

  22. I would do it but there is no way it would be legal. I doubt there is a town or county in this country that would let you do this.

  23. The real point of this campaign is not to advertise on the side of a house — it’s to get everyone talking about Adzookie’s “crazy idea”.

  24. As someone who lives in a neighborhood where many older houses have been foreclosed on and abandoned I would be open to this. Painting a billboard on a house and supporting a family enough to keep living in it would be better than the possible alternative of the house becoming abandoned, vandalized and gutted by people trying to make a buck off of stealing all the copper plumbing and wiring.

    As to whether the city would be okay with it, well, they do allow this house: http://wisconsinosity.com/Milwaukee/cherry_street.htm

  25. I’d be on it like white on rice. An extra $20k would pay my kids tuition… or just dump it onto the principle.

  26. It’s what you might call a virtual business model. You don’t even have to execute, just be first with a new twist on an old idea and publicize it on the Internet.

    How much would you say a top page article on BoingBoing with comments thread would be worth?

    They already got their money’s worth.. or what it would be.. if they spent a nickel on their “campaign”.

  27. Perhaps we can have our houses painted in the futuristic styles of a virtual tag for the purpose of advertising through augmented reality. Without the proper equipment, it would be like living in a painting of abstract geometric shapes and patterns. Then again as a poor college student, I’d move into a 400 sq ft Happy Meal box if it meant I wouldn’t have to worry about my student loans.

  28. It’s very tempting. Not only would it be nice to have a year of mortgage payments (it’s only a ten-year mortgage), but my very old wooden house is badly in need of a paint job. Or two.

  29. I’m pretty sure they could buy every horizontal
    square meter in Detroit and thus buy the first
    GoogleEarth advert…

  30. Is this a way to actually make the mortgage payments?

    Or is it something more insidious, such as suspending the mortgage payments for a year (while letting interest accumulate) without being foreclosed?

    This IS a mortgage company, after all. They have no scruples, morals, or soul.

  31. I don’t think this would ever happen on a house, but I’ve often thought more cars could carry advertising skins. Would you drive around with an advert on your car if the payment was made for you in return? Would you if the ad was for Viagra? Trojans? Ducolax? Think about all the celebrities who shill for things – if you got a shot, would you?

  32. I could use the $15,000 or $20,000 / year about now.

    Of course it’s awful. But so is losing your house.

    It’s hard to believe that any display advertisement is worth that kind of cash to a company however, except as a novelty.

  33. I’m pretty sure Adzookie has already won this round – they’ve managed to have this story posted all over the place, with lively discussion of something that will most likely never get off the ground.

    They’ve already received well over $100k worth of PR, and they most likely won’t have to spend a dime bc they won’t find any “qualifying candidates”.

    I know I wouldn’t have heard of them if they hadn’t come up with this.

  34. I work for a city, and our Zoning Ordinance specifically prevents this on houses (and cars) in my city. I would imagine that many cities have similar laws. This is bound to fizzle out, and fast. These people didn’t do their homework.

  35. This is kind of inventive, put it would be hideous to look at. I hope very few people are desperate enough to use their house as a billboard.

Comments are closed.