A follicularly taxing campaign to sell tax preparation to Millennials
H&R Block

Brand Strategy, Social Media, Creative, Community Management

Prior to tax season, H&R Block articulated a concerning business challenge to Elasticity: Its historic 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 tax season campaign that connected with this coveted demographic, driving brand engagement and improving perceptions amongst younger audiences.

A Hairy Strategy

The media landscape as we knew it was imploding. The 21-35 demographic was fleeing traditional channels to digital ones. And as consumers explored new options, between social and traditional media, they were increasingly surrounded by brand messages at every turn. To combat this, we brought together two simple pillars as the basis of a brand reputation strategy. Humor could break through the clutter and grab people’s attention and resonate with a younger demographic. At the same time, mustaches were gaining traction in popular culture and could be leveraged to engage audiences.

Thus we developed the hairiest integrated, cause-based marketing communications campaign in the history of hairy campaigns: “The Million Mustache March.” It was a movement in support of a ludicrous piece of legislation called “The Stache Act,” predicated upon partnerships with the humor-based facial hair “think tank” the American Mustache Institute and a noted (and very hairy) tax policy professor.

Playing It Out

On President’s Day, standing at a podium on the west lawn of the United States Capitol and with the likes of NPR and ABC News in the audience, the American Mustache Institute and tax policy professor Dr. John Yeutter introduced The Stache Act and The Million Mustache March campaign in support of the legislation. The Stache Act called for a $250 tax credit for Americans with mustaches, and to build momentum and support, two drivers of support were announced:

  • An online petition living inside Facebook that enabled supporters to virtually “’stache” themselves and share their now-much-better-looking photos with their friends. To motivate users, for each stache, H&R Block would donate to Millions from One, a nonprofit dedicated to providing safe drinking water to impoverished communities throughout the world.
  • And on April 1, the campaign would culminate with an actual Million Mustache March that would proceed from the U.S. Capitol to the White House in support of The Stache Act.

Telling the Story

To reach the masses, we employed a full-court press of engaging content dispersed through organic and paid digital distribution along with traditional public relations. There were countless videos of celebrity pleas for support from actress Ellie Kemper, comic Wayne Brady, musician John Oates and Major League Baseball all-star John Axford among others. This was supplemented by an onslaught of earned media around the legislation that included Fox News, ABC, NPR, the BBC, the Drudge Report, CBS News, NBC News and countless more.

But with every mention, every story, every share – one thing remained constant: Brand pull-through for H&R Block related to the company’s support and donation to Millions From One for every participant in the movement.

Kind of a Big Deal

Beyond H&R Block Chief Marketing Officer Robert Turtledove remarking, “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!” — the results were nothing short of spectacular:

  • 91 national media placements, resulting in more than 255 million total impressions from traditional media.
  • 44,000+ unique visitors to the Facebook “Stache App”
  • 14,000 page likes and tens of thousands of comments
  • 157,000+ separate points of engagement across channels.

Most important, H&R Block’s campaign success was noted in the earnings review of competitor Turbo Tax-parent Intuit following tax season as it had impacted that brand’s revenue by increasing Block’s market share.

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