H&R Block Spends Evenly On Digital And TV Ads, CMO Says

KCH&R Block is targeting millennials, TV and your tax dollars.

The tax preparation giant is gearing up to air three new 30-second broadcast TV ads just in time for tax season, with a goal to increase awareness among the youngest demographic set of tax filers.

H&R Block declined to disclose how much it is investing in its 2016 tax season TV campaigns, but the tax preparer pulled in about $3 billion in revenue last year and clocks roughly $150 million in measured media annually.

The first three TV ads will run Friday through Feb. 15, prompting viewers to sign up for H&R Block to do their taxes while automatically entering a sweepstakes that will give $1,000 to 1,000 customers daily. The TV campaign will incorporate digital and social extensions.

“We’re very much targeting millennials with these big and bold promotions,” said Kathy Collins, CMO of H&R Block, who noted the 2014 Hipster Tax Crisis campaign targeting millennials through digital video. It’s the millennials who “tend to be early-season filers because they’re generally more eager to get their tax return.” 

To reach its target demographic – mainly millennials and Hispanic-Americans – H&R Block is enlisting the help of NBA player Anthony Davis and Latin reggaeton musician Wisin to appear in branded integrations and on-air spots early on in the tax season.

“The combination of TV and digital works really well for us” in reaching both demographic targets, Collins added. “We do a lot of media-mix modeling and TV still serves as our foundation, which we layer in with on-air radio and a mix of digital and local marketing.”

Right now, TV and digital each account for 30% of the brand’s total media budget, while 10% goes to cause marketing programs to inspire altruistic achievements such as financial literacy, while the remaining 30% go to miscellaneous marketing expenditures, like radio.

H&R Block isn’t prepping a Super Bowl TV ad this year. Instead it will invest in three more TV spots to run through the end of April to reach self-filers, as well as the brand’s second target audience set – “procrastinators,” or those who wait right until the April deadline to file their taxes.

Although you might think of H&R Block as a brick-and-mortar financial brand, given its 10,000 tax service centers in shopping malls across the country, the company is expanding its brand offerings, which is why television remains an important investment focus to aid in ongoing awareness.

The company revealed Thursday a new retail brand called “Block Advisors,” 300 new retail outlets to be rolled out this year that will cater more to the small-business owner than the everyday consumer.

Instead of operating only throughout tax season, Block Advisors will be staffed year-round with “our most tenured tax experts,” to serve a more business-focused demographic.

And H&R Block launched a digital, do-it-yourself tax service last year, which it priced at $9.99; about 60% of people prefer help with their taxes, while 40% prefer to do it on their own, Collins noted.

The big-picture focus for the 60-year-old brand is staying relevant and figuring out what the future of tax prep looks like, Collins said.

“We do a ton of tests in digital media, but the most important thing we’ve discovered is learn quickly and fail fast,” she said. “Even beyond marketing – it’s staying one step ahead in the category. What if an Uber for tax prep arrives tomorrow and suddenly H&R Block isn’t as relevant anymore? You have to worry about how you stay top of mind as a brand and the rest falls into place.”


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