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H&R Block: Using ’Staches to Sell Tax Services

Challenge

In early 2012, H&R Block (HRB) approached Elasticity with a challenge: Its brand was increasingly thought of as stodgy and conservative among 21- to 35-year-olds. To counter those perceptions, Elasticity was charged with creating a campaign that connected with this coveted demographic, driving brand engagement and improving perceptions. The campaign was to be executed in the lead-up to tax season.

Strategy

To reach the younger demographic, we developed a humor-based campaign that incorporated a liberal amount of cause marketing, and leveraged social media and public relations to quickly raise awareness. From the outset, we understood that we needed to develop a platform that was truly newsworthy and had the potential to be spread through word of mouth.

Our vehicle to break through the clutter? Partnering with the farcical American Mustache Institute, we drafted The Stache Act—a call to arms for a $250 tax credit for Americans with mustaches, based on an actual white paper authored by a real academic. To build momentum, we built an online petition in Facebook that enabled supporters to virtually “’stache” themselves and share their now-much-better-looking photos with their friends. To motivate users, we partnered with Millions from One, a nonprofit dedicated to providing safe drinking water to impoverished communities throughout the world. Each time a user used the app, a donation was made.

To reach the masses, we employed a full-court press of traditional public relations, beginning with a launch press conference on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. We used a drumbeat of humorous content to sustain momentum, ultimately culminating in a “Million Mustache March” on April 1, 2012, during which Americans marched through the streets for tax equality.

Results

The results were nothing short of spectacular:

  1. We secured 91 national media hits, resulting in more than 255 million total impressions from traditional media.
  2. More than 44,000 unique visitors viewed the Facebook app, resulting in nearly 1,500 virtual ’staches.
  3. We drove an additional 14,000 page Likes and tens of thousands of comments, dramatically increasing page engagement with the HRB brand.
  4. Overall, the campaign drove more than 157,000 separate points of engagement across channels.

HRB’s Chief Marketing Officer Robert Turtledove praised the campaign, saying, “Absolutely amazing. What a great, bold idea from start to finish. Throughout this journey, the buzz and social value, press coverage, and engagement have been phenomenal. Well-done!”