You know that old chestnut: An historic American brand that essentially created its own vertical built on a backbone old, male and pale — loses touch with a younger, more diverse and digitally inclined demographic and begins to have its lunch eaten by fresh upstarts. H&R Block came to Elasticity looking to move away from its “slow and steady wins the race” brand proposition — at least in the minds of Millennials — and develop an integrated strategy to disrupt, engage and speak to a new generation of American consumers.
Block’s brand proposition was known for the stability of Henry Block, dressed in a crisp suit and speaking authoritatively. We knew we had to develop a fresh and disruptive brand narrative and voice that would break through the clutter, appeal to modern, younger consumers, and engage audiences largely inside their digital channels where they gathered much of their information in a tone that caught their attention.
We devised an integrated campaign steeped in humor and leveraging the widespread backlash against the hipster subculture in America. This centered on the creation of a fictitious, “Hipster Tax Crisis.”
The campaign was fully integrated, encompassing paid, earned, and owned media with a simple premise:
It’s a dirty little secret that no one wants to talk about: The American Hipster is in a deep crisis – a Hipster Tax Crisis. They are struggling to properly file taxes in non-ironic fashion and blankets don’t qualify as deductible clothing expenses, scarves cannot be counted as dependents, kale grown on a fire escape doesn’t allow for farm tax credits.
The campaign enlisted Kenny Mayne – the sardonic ESPN SportsCenter anchor along with comedic actors from the Upright Citizens Brigade comedy troupe – to be the faces of the campaign. In addition, we aligned the campaign with Covenant House, a national nonprofit dedicated to helping homeless youth.
At the center of the campaign, we created a humorous microsite, using videos of Kenny Mayne and the UBC players to deepen brand engagement. The microsite utilized numerous touch points to drive engagement including Hipster Tax Facts and a HipsterizeMe photo application.
The campaign culminated in the Irony Games in Seattle – a celebration of the American hipster where the greatest hipster in history was announced.