H&R Block Ridiculous? Yes, Again, And It’s Awesome!

by · March 4, 20143 comments

It’s an understood reality that taxes are dreadful. I actually got an email from my accountant the other day that began with, “You’re going to have to pay a lot of money in taxes this year.” Welcome to just a snippet of my existence.

But when someone, or perhaps something, can make taxes, well tolerable, it gets my attention. That’s why two years ago I wrote a post about H&R Block’s unique “‘Stache Act” campaign developed with digital marketing and PR firm Elasticity, with whom I actually now work with in my capacity with CafePress. As I wrote then, the campaign was, “a milestone in content marketing. A big, successful corporation is breaking the mold of its own, traditional voice and showing a ton of personality.”

And now comes Act II for Block and Elasticity: “The Hipster Tax Crisis,” I kid you not.

You of course are familiar with the crisis faced by Hipsters, right? According to the campaign’s ridiculous amount of sharable content, some 81 percent of American Hipsters believe paying taxes has become “too mainstream” and more than half of Hipsters think scarves should be counted as deductible expenses.

And with every crisis there is someone called in to solve the crisis. Enter ESPN SportsCenter fixture Kenny Mayne with a hand from the Upright Citizen’s Brigade comedy troupe and as well as a “Hipster Tax Rap” from Chicago comedy-music act The Flavor Savers to get its message across.

In a series of videos and SomeECard-like “tax facts,” Mayne is purportedly educating Hipsters in non-ironic ways about how to file taxes properly. The whole shebang culiminates on April 1 in Seattle the campaign will hold The Irony Games – free PBR and awards for “Best In Scarf” and “Best in Skinny Jeans” — where the first ever “Hipster Of The Year” will be named in an effort to elevate Hipsters to what Mayne believes is their proper place in American society.

Hipster Tax Facts from H&R Block

Ridiculous, right? Yes, but it all has purpose in connecting the H&R Block brand with the 21 – 35 demo in a meaningful way.

The platform at HipsterTaxCrisis.com is meant to be easily accessed online or via mobile and provides sharable content including Hipster Tax Facts akin to SomeEcards, a “Hipster Of The Year” nomination, a “Hipsterize Me” app, which allows you to add hipster features (non-prescription glasses, skinny jeans, scarves, beanie caps) to your photographs. And for each bit of content shared using #HipsterTax, H&R Block will make a charitable contribution to Covenant House, which serves homeless youth nationally.

The site has almost nothing of true value about taxes, and that’s kind of the point. It’s purely tongue-in-cheek – understanding that growing arugula on a fire escape does not allow you to file for a farm tax credit – and it will no doubt endear the brand to the Millennial set the H&R Block wants to reach. Users get to laugh a little at themselves and their friends, but they also get to do some good in the world — all while getting closer to H&R Block during the tax season.

With so much of marketing the same these days, H&R Block’s “Hipster Tax Crisis” is a strong example of how quality content, strategically positioned, can break through the cluttered landscape and help connect brands with specific audiences.

And yes, I’ll be following up to look at success metrics after tax season. I have a feeling this one is going to help get or keep H&R Block in front of that target demographic quite well.

Your thoughts on the campaign? Integration points? What could they do better? The comments, as always, are yours.

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is the founder and chief instigator for Social Media Explorer's blog. He is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for CafePress, one of the world's largest online retailers. His opinions are his, not necessarily theirs. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://current360.com Angela Trumbaturi

    Wondering how the folks at SomeEcards feel about it? Maybe it doesn’t matter, but can they do anything to H&R since it is such an obvious nod to what they do? Surely H&R has considered it and it must be ok or they really don’t consider it a threat chalking it off to the nature of the internet and copycating. But still, I wonder since SomeEcards actually has a “sponsored content” offering (ex. Chili’s): http://www.someecards.com/chilis-happy-hour-cards

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      I’m sure the H&R Block folks were careful to not replicate anything that was trademarked or service marked by Someecards. It’s a nod, but there’s nothing about the design that appears (to my undereducated legal eye) to be infringing. And I happen to have been told by those that know that while Someecards does have sponsored cards, they retain full editorial control over them so you don’t get what you want … you get what they think is funny/on-brand for them. Risky for brands, for sure.

  • McKenzie

    I think H&R made great decisions on how to market this campaign to the specific age group. H&R really shows how well they know their target audience, and their use of social media. Although the campaign doesn’t provide much value about taxes, H&R is using great marketing techniques to make an impression and increase their popularity in a hard to reach audience.