Adzookie: A Case Study in the Relation Between Ineffectiveness and Brilliance 1

Have you heard of Adzookie?  Unless you’re really into small-market mobile advertising start-ups, you shouldn’t have.  Well friends, prepare yourselves to be introduced to the proud owners of one of the most ineffective and polarizing advertising campaigns in recent memory; which, in turn, is also one of the most creative and brilliant public relations campaigns.

Adzookie offers a fairly standard smartphone advertising platform geared towards small businesses,and by taking a look at their website I would say “fairly standard” is just about as accurate of a description of the company you can get.

In late March Adzookie launched their “Paint My House” campaign.  The deal works as such: Adzookie will come to your house and repaint every side as a large advertisement for their company (see picture above, which would have caused Grant Wood to stab himself in the eyes with his pitchfork).  For as long as the house remains painted, Adzookie will pay your mortgage. Mad Men-style genius? Not quite.

First, let’s examine the rarely-used “house as a billboard” advertising strategy in order to determine its effectiveness.  In conclusion, it’s horrible.  As an example we’ll take the house pictured above.  By its appearance it looks like it is located in suburbia, Anytown-USA; not dissimilar to the area in which I grew up.  On an average weekday I would estimate that about 25 different cars drive by that house, and about 80% of them belong to other people that live in the neighborhood.  Mathematically that leaves five new people driving by the billboard each day.  This number becomes even less when you take into consideration repeat visitors to the road such as friends, nannies, and these guys.  Dismissing the increased traffic due to locals who “always knew the Johnsons would do something like this,” what are the chances that you are going to get a person who is driving down that road, who also happens to be a marketing executive, who also happens to be looking for a new mobile advertising platform?  That’s a risky ROI when the average American mortgage payment is almost $1,700/month.

Now let’s examine the public relations impact this campaign had on Adzookie.  The out of left field nature of the Orange, CA-based company’s plan immediately gained national coverage in major publications such as The Wall Street Journal, CNN, NBC, TIME, and Forbes.  CEO Romeo Mendoza had crafted his message perfectly:  He and his company were recession-era saviors of those most in need.  Oh, and they just happen to also run a mobile advertising company.  “We hit a nerve,” he’s quoted as saying in The Wall Street Journal article.  “I knew people needed help, but I didn’t know so many. That’s kind of sad. We can’t help everyone, but we can help some.” For most of early-April, Adzookie was the most recognized mobile advertising platform in the country.  I, as many others, took the time to write about this once-unknown company.  Exposure has gone through the roof (which Adzookie doesn’t really care about because they don’t paint your roof).

What will be the result of “Paint My House” on Adzookie’s bottom line?  It’s too early to say.  They have obviously not gained enough funds to improve their website, and behemoths Google and Apple currently dominate the mobile advertising landscape.  However I doubt that you will soon forget about Adzookie, the mobile advertising company that dared to dominate your landscape.

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