H&R Block makes its expertise more explicit

The tax preparation company evolves its "Get What's Yours" platform and zeroes in on a more specific target.
H&R Block

After two years of focusing on who Canadians shouldn’t trust with their taxes, H&R Block is using the 2019 tax season to more explicitly state which tax prep experts they should put their faith in instead.

In a series of TV spots by agency Sid Lee, customers sit across from H&R Block tax experts, answering routine questions about their dependents, relationship status and employment status. The videos serve to show that no matter how “complicated” (or uncomfortable) the answers to these questions get (and they do), customers can count on H&R Block to make the process feel simple and less stressful.

“The last two years, we’ve really been focusing on who shouldn’t be doing your taxes – the ex-wife, the father-in-law, the guy who works out of his basement – and now we’re shifting that to who should be doing your taxes,” says Hilary Zaharko, VP marketing at H&R Block.

A continuation of the three-year-old “Get What’s Yours” platform, the campaign nevertheless attempts to move it in a new direction. The company has been successfully acquiring new customers over the last two years – a previous effort led to 4.5% new client growth – so Zaharko says it wasn’t “100% necessary” to change directions with the creative. Rather, the brand wanted “to make sure that we’re constantly evolving and showing our brand value proposition.”

For the first time since its “Tax Pain” campaigns in the early 2010s, the brand has returned to filming inside the company’s offices and highlighting the experiences customers have there, says Zaharko. “It’s been a lot of focus on clients and their lives, and we still wanted to keep elements of that in this campaign, but then also switch it back to what value is H&R Block offering.”

Unlike past efforts, whose focus has been the broader 18- to 34-year-old demographic, H&R Block has honed in on 29-year-olds this year, says Zaharko. The broader segment didn’t account for differences in the life experiences of all those in early adulthood, she says. Moreover, company research showed that 29-year-olds are the most likely to be acquiring their first piece of property or having their first child, two milestones that can have a significant impact on taxes. “It’s a massive year of change for those clients, so [it’s about] positioning ourselves as, ‘We’ve got you. We can help you.’”

The campaign includes TV, radio, social, digital and out-of-home, both in English-speaking markets and Quebec. Zaharko says the company hasn’t had as much success in Quebec as in the rest of Canada over the last few years, so it has upped the media spend in that market this year.

H&R Block usually tests its ads with around 1,200 Canadians, but this year it also specifically tested the ads for likeability and consideration in Quebec, says Zaharko. “What we found is that the premise [of the campaign] actually performed better in Quebec than it did in the rest of Canada, which is the first time we’ve seen that.”

Also new this year, the company is testing a new media strategy based on medix mix modelling analysis conducted by Sid Lee Media last summer. Unable to share all the specifics, Zaharko said TV was found to perform better than OOH ads, and radio performed better than anticipated. So this year, the brand is pumping more dollars into TV and fewer in OOH in an effort to validate the strategy.