06/26/18 2:30pm

HOW A 6-BILLBOARD COURTSHIP CAMPAIGN AIMS TO LURE LEBRON JAMES TO HOUSTON “A lot of times, players recruit players,” Rockets fan Greg Andrews tells the Chronicle’s Maggie Gordon, “Teams recruit players. And now, what I’d like to see is fans recruit players.” That’s what the 36-year-old oil-and-gas equipment executive hopes to do with the set of 6 billboards he installed along Houston roads last week. His pitch focuses on Houston’s spirit: “we’re a very hospitable, nice environment,” he says — a potential draw for the 3-time MVP as he enters his mid-30s: “Family matters. It matters in Houston, and it matters to LeBron.” Since the Cavs player isn’t likely to be driving the Houston freeways anytime soon though, Andrews hopes the signs will first inspire other fans to echo his plea (elaborated on his website) in videos shared online and hashtagged #htownthecrown. “My ultimate goal,” says Andrews “is to have J.J. Watt, Jose Altuve, Travis Scott, those Houston celebrities do ‘Hey LeBron’ video” The billboards will stay up for 3 weeks, past the July 1 deadline for LeBron to forgo the rest of his $35.7 million contract with Cleveland and opt into free agency. [Houston Chronicle ($)] Photo: Kyle Hagerty

01/16/18 10:45am

GENERATION PARK’S HIGHLY TARGETED MARKETING Here’s the banner that aerial advertisers towed across the skies in the airspace above Amazon’s Seattle offices last Friday. McCord Development enlisted the (off camera) airplane to help tout its 4,000-acre Generation Park complex as a good spot for the online giant to build its new HQ2 office. [KOMO; Generation Park’s pitch; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Lindsay Cohen

10/20/11 1:26pm

When you use the city’s brand-new pay-by-phone parking setup to pay for a metered space — introduced by the mayor this morning — what are you giving up? Well, an extra 35 cents to the system’s vendor, Parkmobile, beyond the parking fee. Plus you’re telling city officials — and parking enforcement officers — where your car is parked, its license plate number, and a good way to reach you. But city Admin & Regulatory Affairs spokesperson Chris Newport tells Swamplot that’s all: “No credit card or email information will be accessed. We retain the plate/phone number parking transaction history to allow us to verify someone paid for parking in the event of a complaint regarding a citation that may have been issued in error.”

What if you’ve got a few outstanding tickets?


10/17/11 5:20pm

Three days in advance of its planned official introduction, the city department in charge of the brand-new citywide pay-your-parking-meter-by-mobile-phone setup has asked the Atlanta company running the program to can whatever spam it had planned on sending customers. “The City’s agreement with ParkMobile does not allow for promotional emails or texts to be sent to registered users,” Admin & Regulatory Affairs spokesperson Christopher Newport tells Swamplot.

Over the weekend, vendor Parkmobile’s CEO Albert Bogaard denied the company had any plans to send unsolicited emails or texts to the program’s users. But an item posted on InnerLooped (and noted on Swamplot) last week reported otherwise. It pointed to wording in the Terms and Conditions posted online by the company that warned users they could receive as many as 3 emails or SMS messages from Parkmobile or “other affiliated, third-party companies” after using a phone or mobile app for payment. The terms and conditions did indicate that customers could opt out of receiving all text messages or emails from the service, but didn’t describe a way to opt out of ads or marketing messages only.


10/14/11 12:20pm

Blog-about-town InnerLooped notices the new pay-by-phone signs that have gone up on Downtown parking meters, including this one near Frank’s Pizza on Travis St. The service should be convenient for drivers who are short on change but have extra capacity in their mobile phone text-messaging plans. Here’s a little surprise included in the terms of use for the service posted online (though not mentioned anywhere on the signs): notice that mobile meter payers may receive mobile application, SMS, or email ads from the company that runs the service — Atlanta’s Parkmobile — or “other affiliated, third-party companies” when they park.

Photo: InnerLooped

12/21/09 11:17am

LIGHT RAIL CONSTRUCTION AND THE GORILLAS’ LAST STAND The latest idea from Metro: Create official signs, flags, and banners for businesses along light-rail construction routes, to show they’re still in business, and to guide cars into open parking areas. Only problem? “Some of the proposed flags would flutter afoul of the city’s newly tightened sign ordinance, which bans certain types of ‘attention-getting devices.’ City Council may have to approve a small change in the city’s sign law to allow temporary banners to stay up for longer than the allotted seven out of 30 days, according to city public works official Andy Icken. . . . The city’s new sign ordinance kicks in on Jan. 1. It bans the giant inflatable balloon animals and other eye-catching gizmos that you often see on Houston’s highways and roads. So enjoy the giant ‘For Sale’ gorillas while you can. Also, the dancing wind socks along the side of the road, the silver and blue streamers at car dealerships, and the other pennants, pinwheels and puppets meant to pull your gaze from the road to the roadside.” [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot]

08/28/09 11:00pm

YOUR LAST CHANCE TO GET LAST YEAR’S SWAMPLOT AD RATES Some great local firms and organizations have already taken advantage of Swamplot’s limited-time-only lock-in-our-old-rates summer advertising special. How about you? Interested in putting your ads up on Swamplot at a last-chance price? Then hurry — this deal ends Monday! (Update, 8/31: At the end of the day.) There’s more info here.

08/20/09 3:45pm

Here’s one thing all Swamplot advertisers have in common: They all started out as Swamplot readers. Eventually, each of them realized that if they’re reading and enjoying Swamplot, it’s likely a lot of their potential customers are too.

They are.

It makes sense then, for us to direct a few messages about Swamplot advertising to our general audience. Especially when we have something special to offer. And we do!

Swamplot’s advertising rates were last set a year ago, when this site had a significantly smaller readership. We’ve now raised them to better match our current numbers: More than 165,000 pageviews, from more than 37,000 absolute unique visitors, each month. All of them actively interested in Houston real estate, development, neighborhoods, home decor, and all that other Swamplot-y stuff we cover. They’re people like you.

So what’s the special? We wanted to give a chance to those readers who maybe hadn’t considered advertising on Swamplot to try it out — at our old rates!

You know those little 125×125-pixel “tile”-size square ads in the column to the right? We’ve got a few more of them to sell. For cheap. Ridiculously cheap.

Uh . . . how cheap?


11/13/08 3:15pm

Inflatable Wrestler, Houston

Yesterday’s City Council vote wasn’t even close — which means that Houston will no longer allow “attention-getting devices” on commercial property, effective January 1st of 2010. The ban excludes fake quoins, oversized Alamo-shaped parapets, and strip-mall turrets, but it pointedly includes the inflatable menageries that are so much simpler to put up and take down.

Houston sure knows how to destroy its architectural history! In honor of the passing of this singular era, which exhibited such a flowering of the local decorative arts — and in advance of the less-than-spectacular demolitions that are soon to follow, Swamplot presents this short photo salute to Houston’s soon-to-be lost commercial landscape:


11/12/08 3:01pm

Inflatable Animal on Top of Store in North Houston

First, they came for the giant apes!

Houston’s City Council may vote today to ban the use of inflatable cartoon characters to draw traffic to local businesses. A law that’s already on the books requires permits for these “attention-getting devices,” and restricts their use. But there’s no money to fund enforcement.

The new law would prohibit more than just large blowup animals:

If approved, the ban also would prohibit flashy and motion-driven devices, such as dancing wind puppets, spinning pinwheels, pennants, streamers and strobe and spotlights. . . .

[Balloon vendor Jim] Purtee said his clients report sales increase 30 to 100 percent in the weeks after installing a giant balloon. “You can’t ban balloons without banning car wraps, those planes flying over Houston with trailing banners or people standing on the corner in a clown costume,” Purtee added. . . .

Officials said holiday displays and residential lawn decorations would be exempted from the ban. The prohibition would apply only to attention-getting devices used for commercial purposes.

That troubles Councilwoman Anne Clutterbuck. She asked how the city would distinguish between attention-getting devices and the holiday lights, bows and sparkly stars installed in Rice Village and the Galleria area.


03/05/08 11:12am

Storefront Ad for Red Bull Art of Can Competition and Exhibition on Elgin St., Midtown, Houston

Here’s one advantage if you’re one of the not-so-large number of retail centers in Houston that doesn’t have a parking lot in front: If business ain’t so hot, you can always sell the highly visible adspace on your facade!

A reader sends in this photo of an ad for Red Bull’s Art of Can competition on the streetfront of a retail center on Elgin, across from the Calais apartments in Midtown. The Maple Leaf Pub is two doors down.

Is this the future of retail real estate? Sure, we’ve all seen ads painted onto the sides of old buildings and the giant window stickers on David’s Bridal storefronts, but doesn’t this go a bit . . . beyond that? Think of the possibilities: Stores . . . with ads covering their entire fronts, advertising . . . other stores. Or anything.

Forget billboards, graffiti, and wheatpaste posters. When this new market really kicks in, we’ll see Houston for its revenue-generating possibilities: We’ve got acres and acres of exploitable advertising space.

Tyvek Housewrap was only the beginning.

What comes after Tuscan-themed shopping centers? Billboard-themed shopping centers!

After the jump: a second photo, so you can get your Red Bull straight.