NEW YORK (MainStreet) — When the history of advertising in the 21st century is written, one gimmick from a little-known advertising group named Adzookie will likely come to be viewed as a watershed moment when the traditional notion of ad space was upended in favor of a new form of product placement.
In early April, Adzookie, a small company in Orange, Calif., presented homeowners with an extreme promotion: If they agreed to have a temporary Adzookie advertisement painted on their house, the company would pay the mortgage each month the ad stayed up (and cover the cost of painting the ad and repainting the house afterward). It was a promotion that seemed tailor-made to grab headlines (and it did), but how many homeowners actually could be desperate enough to transform their home-sweet-home into a neighborhood billboard?
The answer, to date, is more than 20,000. Adzookie claims to have received 1,000 applications for the promotion on the first day alone, 10,000 in the first week and 22,000 applications in total, all in less than two months. To put all this in perspective, the company’s initial quota was to paint 10 homes, a number based on their low expectations and low budget, but it has since brought in other advertisers to raise the quota to 100 homes, with the first approved homes scheduled to be announced in the next few weeks.
If these numbers sound like an exaggeration, just take a glimpse at the wall of the company’s Facebook page, where dozens of homeowners from around the country and the world have posted pictures of themselves or their homes along with personal pleas explaining why they're right for the promotion.
Some emphasized the unique perks of their real estate, (“The tree in our front yard is coming down today to give persons an unobstructed view of our beautiful ad. People drive by at all hours of the day and night. What a bargain you guys would get”), while others wrote of dire straits (“My husband and I are desperately trying to hang on, we need you – you are our last hope”).
“When we first launched this, we weren’t sure how people would respond to it,” said Romeo Mendoza, CEO of Adzookie, who estimates that 90% of those who have applied for the offer are likely doing so for financial reasons, while the remaining 10% are just doing it for the experience. “There are some who want us to paint their RVs, their cars, one guy even wants us to paint an ad on the back of his phone because he says he’s an actor and people will see it.”
Adzookie isn’t the first or only company in recent years to effectively turn ordinary consumers into paid brand sponsors. In 2008, Jobing.com, a career site, launched a promotion giving consumers a gas stipend in exchange for advertising the site on the side of their car. More recently, several retailers including Marc Ecko have offered customers a lifetime discount if they were willing to get a tattoo of the company logo. Even schools and communities have found themselves tempted by the idea of partnering with marketers, taking the unprecedented steps of placing ads on school buses and lockers or, in some cases, letting marketers buy the naming rights to public buildings.
Yet the massive response to Adzookie’s promotion shows just how eager many consumers and communities are to embrace the idea of placing advertisements in previously untouched spaces, whether it be on one’s home or body. If this form of nontraditional advertising does catch on, we might one day see the average community as packed with product promotions as New York’s Times Square.