PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Brainiacs From Mars is a marketing firm that is giving new meaning to the concept of thinking outside the box.

“You’ll notice we’re kind of out there,” says Irwin native and Brainiacs CEO Romeo Mendoza.

It wasn’t that long ago Mendoza was driving his 6-year-old daughter home when they spotted a “Bank Owned” sign in the front yard of a home.

As Mendoza explained the housing crisis in a way his 6-year-old would understand, his daughter said something to the effect of “we should help them.”

Out of that conversation was born the Brainiacs From Mars Billboard Home campaign.

The concept is simple, you let the company paint your house as a giant billboard and get your mortgage paid every month for up to a year.

The Hostettler family in Buena Park, Calif., were the first to welcome the Brainiac deal.

“We thought it would be nice to have a company pay the mortgage so we could pay down our bills and the credit cards,” said Scott Hostettler.

For Mendoza, the looks of the house, its location and public visibility are not nearly as important as the family story. In the Hostettler’s case both parents are deaf, and their 17-year-old daughter Sarah does all their interpreting.

“The mom teaches other deaf people how to assimilate back in the work field, so she trains them how to adjust,” Mendoza said. “They are a very close-knit family.”

No sooner had the paint dried on the Hostettler’s home, the applications for Billboard Homes started flooding the Brainiacs website, including from Western Pennsylvania.

“We are behind in our mortgage and we need to catch up,” says Brian Mach of West Mifflin who saw the ad and couldn’t believe it. “’You gotta be kidding; this can’t be for real.’ So, I just threw my name in and figured I would never hear from it ever again.”

Mach’s wife lost her job when Braddock Hospital closed and they started falling behind on their $600 mortgage.

Susan Fitzpatrick’s home in Crafton Heights is also on the Brainiacs hopeful list.

“I have five children, I work a full time job, my husband works a full time job and is working a lot of overtime,” she said. “About three years ago, he lost his job and we went through a really difficult time and almost lost our house.”

The Fitzpatrick’s are doing better, but still can’t get over the hump.

Susan and Brian are on a list that has now topped 50,000 hopeful families and the opportunity to register is still open.

Mendoza says they are budgeted to do a hundred homes, but want to take that to at least a thousand. The next homes will be announced in March.

To register go to: brainiacsfrommars.com

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