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Company turns homes into billboards in exchange for mortgage payment

Brainiacs billboard home campaign begins in January


by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - This Buena Park, Calif., home was painted neon for two months in February. It started as a conversation on the ride home from school. Romeo Mendoz and his 6-year-old daughter drove past a home in foreclosure. The “Bank Owned” sign in the front lawn sparked the curiosity of the 6-year-old and presented Mendoz with the impossible task of explaining foreclosure and the repercussion it has on families and neighborhoods.

The difficult conversation sparked an idea for Mendoz, CEO of Brainiacs From Mars — a marketing company in Orange, Calif., that specializes in mobile ads.

“It was a nine-minute drive from home and on the way, there was this two-story house with one window and the rest was just blank,” he said. “I thought, ‘Wait a second, we buy ads all the time, why can’t we paint this guy’s house and pay the mortgage?’”

The idea flourished into the Brainiacs’ billboard home campaign, which gives struggling homeowners the chance to have their mortgages paid every month for up to a year, in exchange for allowing the company to paint their houses as giant “broccoli” green and “sunrise” orange billboards.

Houses must be owned — not rented or leased — and must be painted for a minimum of one month. The location — on Main Street or in rural America — doesn’t matter. The entire house will be painted minus the roof, windows and awnings. At the end of the term, the company will repaint the house back any colors the homeowner chooses.

The first and only house to take part in the campaign to date was painted for two months this April. The Hostettlers family in Buena Park, Calif., took advantage of the offer to help with their $2,000-a-month mortgage. The family was struggling to make ends meet.

“It’s a unique idea. It’s not normal by any means,” Mendoz said. “But what it showed us was that people are in dire need of help, and to see that firsthand and read the stories is disheartening. But then we realized we could actually make a difference.”

Mendoz said the idea was picked up early on by CNN and within three days Brainiacs From Mars had received 10,000 applications. To date, the company has received more than 43,000 applications from homeowners across the United States and internationally. Mendoz said the “foreclosure states” of California, Nevada and Florida are drawing the most applicants. One town of just 800 residents has submitted 14 applications, he added.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - The Hostettlers family in Buena Park, Calif., took advantage of the Brainiacs From Mars offer to paint their home in return for mortgage payments. The company has received queries from 37 schools, 24 churches and 85 restaurants, however they plan to solely paint houses. According to the company, there are six pending applications from Lake Oswego and four from West Linn.

The company refused to reveal application identification for privacy purposes.

One resident from West Linn wrote on the application, “It’s an old house, 100 years, that needs painting. I’m getting older, 63, and can’t get around as much as I used to. There’s a lot of newer buildings going up around me and a lot of traffic goes by my house daily. I think your advertisement would generate a lot of people’s interest in your product.”

One resident from Lake Oswego wrote, “We live in the top affluent suburb of Portland, Lake Oswego, which is home to many movers and shakers, lawyers, doctors, etc. etc. Plus, Portland is weird and I could guarantee that if you painted our home, the news would be here in a flash.”

The campaign isn’t without obstacles. Many cities ban outdoor advertising altogether and homeowners associations restrict flamboyant paint colors. The solution, is relatively simple. Brainiacs From Mars will not paint homes bound by homeowners associations and the company made its advertisements removable in order to comply with city ordinances.

“In cities that don’t allow the signage, we go in there with just the paint and the ads are only up for photo opportunities,” Mendoz said. “The paint attracts attention anyway.”

The initial goal was to paint 100 homes, but now due to the attention the program has generated, the company plans to paint 3,000 homes in 2013. The campaign will begin again in January. The philanthropic project is also a clever business campaign.

“The intriguing house will attract attention and show other companies what we can do,” Mendoz said, adding that the company has received interest from reality television shows. “In return, we have a lot of brands that come to us looking for marketing solutions. It becomes a circle that is kind of feeding into itself.”

The company has launched a crowdfunding site on indiegogo.com/brainiacs in the hopes of raising $925,000 for the project. It will aslo be funded via revnue generated from the billboard homes. Mendoz said the campaign will continue indefinitely so long as business is generated and homeowners are in need.

Much like the campaign’s mantra: Paint is temporary but the effect is permanent, Mendoz said the experience has been life altering.

“In the most basic sense, I’m trying to teach my daughter that you can make a difference,” he said. “To show that a little idea can make an impact in people’s lives.”

For more information or to receive a Brainiacs’ billboard home application, visit brainiacsfrommars.com.




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