H&R Block has launched a multi-faceted campaign to defends its tax preparers against recent TurboTax commercials that question the preparers’ qualifications.
The campaign includes traditional media (TV and print), social media, and email.
With the help of its advertising agency Fallon
, H&R Block in the last week has released a new commercial as well as bought full-page ads in several newspapers, emailed its customers, posted to its blog
, and shared information on its Twitter feed and Facebook page.
In a second internal email obtained by PR Daily
, H&R Block CEO Bill Cobb praised employees for their quick response:
“You know I am proud of our tax pros, but I am also proud of the entire H&R Block organization that has risen up to defend our brand and tax pros. From the lawyers to our CSC support teams, field leaders and marketing teams, and of course our franchisees, there is a lot of energy behind this effort to set the record straight.”
A spokesperson for H&R Block confirmed that Cobb sent the email on Jan. 29.
Last month, TurboTax unveiled two commercials that suggest H&R Block tax preparers are unqualified. In one ad, for instance, a woman shopping for clothes in a department store is helped by a store clerk who also prepared her taxes.
TurboTax, which is owned by Intuit, is computer software that helps Americans file their own taxes.
Julie Miller, director of communications at Intuit, told PR Daily
: “We certainly feel like we struck nerve, which has prompted that vigorous response to their ads and that we are executing a plan with our online and offline media, as well as our PR and social media, to win tax-store customers.”
The H&R Block commercial counters this message by featuring several tax preparers who explain their credentials. For example, one employee says he was a chief financial officer for 25 years before joining H&R Block. The ad then asks: “Why is TurboTax insulting our 90,000 tax professionals?”
Last week, PR Daily obtained Cobb’s first email to employees
about the TurboTax spot. In the email, Cobb promised to take swift action. “We are going to defend our tax professionals and our brand against this attack—and we will do it quickly, directly and aggressively,” he said.
Media isn’t the only place H&R Block is taking its fight. The Kansas City-based company asked a U.S. District Court judge in Missouri to block the TurboTax ads.
The judge did not grant the request, but Cobb told employees in his Jan. 29 email that he was pleased by the “aggressive schedule for the next step in the case.”
Cobb added: “We believe the facts are strong and that when we have our day in court, it will be clear that these commercials are false and misleading.”
Meanwhile, Intuit says it is trying to give taxpayers the facts they need.
“These two TurboTax advertisements factually and accurately portray the tax expertise of TurboTax experts, who are all CPAs, IRS Enrolled Agents and tax attorneys,” Dan Maurer, general manager and senior vice president of Intuit’s Consumer Tax Group, said in a statement. “This stands in sharp contrast to the prior tax experience of some of those who major tax stores advertise for and hire ... It is unfortunate, but not surprising, that H&R Block doesn’t want taxpayers to know this. As a consumer-focused company, we want to ensure U.S. taxpayers get the facts so they can make an informed choice for their tax preparation needs.”