A Content Marketing Milestone: Big Brand Shows Personality

by Jason Falls |

Approximately 99.6 percent of the pitches I get from public relations folks are about social media campaigns their firm or client is launching. For whatever reason, they think we care. It’s not that we categorically do not, but that launching a campaign is not news. Finishing one and providing the metrics as a case study is normally pretty interesting, though.

Unfortunately, for competitive reasons, paranoia or simple ignorance, brands never want to share the back-end metrics on much. And alas, we’re left with few case studies that really help.

But every now and then, a launch comes along that is a case study in and of itself. And while I have some personal ties to this one (just that I’ve contributed voluntarily to the campaign and a friend is largely responsible for the content), I have to tell you what H&R Block is up to this spring. It is, quite frankly, a milestone in content marketing. A big, successful corporation is breaking the mold of its own, traditional voice and showing a ton of personality.

It’s a WOW moment that is seldom seen.

The accounting company has thrown its support behind the Million Stache March — a farcical political movement to bring a $250 tax credit to mustached Americans instigated by the American Mustache Institute. AMI is the brainchild of my friend Aaron Perlut who routinely dons a lab coat to appear on live, national television to advocate for the “plight” of the mustached American. Some media members take him seriously, even calling him “Dr. Perlut” despite the closest he’s ever come to being one is when his says, “Turn and cough.”

On April 1, the American Mustache Institute plans to march on Washington in an effort they admit will drive hundreds or thousands, “not likely millions,” toward Capital Hill to petition for the ‘Stache Act and the tax credit for what the organization calls more “sexually dynamic” Americans.

Every step of the way in this campaign, you just to laugh. It’s just fun and silly.

But H&R Block, not known (at least in my estimation) to be a fun or silly brand, is supporting the campaign. Not only because the tax credit thing plays right into what they do for people, but AMI’s content hits a critical target for H&R Block – men age 21-36 who need to be reminded of their tax deadline. All this happens on April 1 — just two weeks away from the big tax day.

Topping it all off is the fact H&R Bock will donate money for each ‘stache represented in the petition/march to Millions for One, a charitable organization that brings fresh drinking water to those around the world that don’t have access.

So there’s warm an fuzzy beyond the flavor saver!

The campaign features a Facebook application where you can ‘Stache yourself in support, which is also how you sign the petition. I’ve done it. Hell, it helps people get drinking water. Why wouldn’t you?

It’s all quite brilliant. So much so that I’ve invited Scott Gulbransen, H&R Block’s director of social media, to be my fireside chat guest at Explore Nashville. (Tickets go on sale soon. But rest assured, we’re going to talk about this campaign and how his brand donned a bit of personality this tax season.)

And, because both Scott and Aaron are friends and I think this campaign is uber cool — not to mention, I am a member of the segment of America that, according to AMI, is 38 percent better looking — I offered this to support the campaign and encourage folks to sign up!

When people like me talk about content marketing, about creating something outstanding that makes people jump back and say, “Holy Smokes!” this is what we’re talking about. H&R Block is doing something completely out of character by supporting the AMI effort to make some noise in jest about mustached Americans getting a tax credit. But it’s done with direct topical ties to the brand and direct connections to a key target audience for them. It makes perfect sense, but it’s also outstanding and unique.

Kudos to H&R Block for crossing that comfort zone and doing something outstanding. Now if the rest of us could learn from this, we could make our social media and content marketing much more attractive to our audiences.


About the Author

Jason Falls

Jason Falls 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 Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).