As tax season approaches, a feud is brewing between two companies that offer services to U.S. taxpayers: H&R Block and TurboTax.
TurboTax launched the first salvo: an ad campaign that seems to mock H&R Block employees. H&R Block is not taking the ads lightly. In an internal email to employees that was acquired by PR Daily
and confirmed by an H&R Block spokesperson, the company's CEO Bill Cobb promised to respond with a vigorous defense.
“We have a strong brand built on integrity and professionalism and anchored by our tax professionals,” Cobb told employees and franchise owners in the email. “We are going to defend our tax professionals and our brand against this attack—and we will do it quickly, directly and aggressively.”
The two commercials, which are currently running on cable channels such as the Hallmark Network and BBC America, suggest H&R Block tax preparers are unqualified. In one ad, a woman shopping for clothes in a department store is helped by a store clerk who also prepared her taxes.
Another ad takes a similar approach, except in this scenario the tax preparer is also a plumber.
Cobb called the ads “outrageous.” He insisted TurboTax is using “misleading data and statements to not only suggest that their advisors are better, but also to make fun of plumbers and retail clerks as not very smart.”
“We work in a competitive business that challenges us every day to live by and defend our values. So when a competitor takes a pot shot at our people—the tax professionals who deliver for our clients every day and in every season—we step up and say: no way—not on our watch.”
According to Cobb's email, H&R Block is developing TV commercials to respond to its competitor’s claims. The company is also exploring legal options. Cobb urged employees to stay focused and not let the TurboTax campaign distract them.
“We got this covered,” he assured them.
TurboTax is a computer program that helps Americans prepare their taxes. Intuit, which owns the software, did not respond to PR Daily
’s requests for comment.
Here's the full text of Cobb's email:
When we say we believe in our people, we mean it.
TurboTax has launched two new outrageous commercials that attempt to sell their tax advice resources as more prepared, more professional, and simply superior to ours. As you can see in the links to these ads below, TurboTax uses misleading data and statements to not only suggest that their advisors are better, but to also make fun of plumbers and retail sales clerks as not very smart.
We work in a competitive business that challenges us every day to live by and defend our values. So when a competitor takes a pot shot at our people – the tax professionals who deliver for our clients every day and in every season – we step up and say: no way – not on our watch.
We have a strong brand built on integrity and professionalism and anchored by our tax professionals. We are going to defend our tax professionals and our brand against this attack – and we will do it quickly, directly and aggressively.
New H&R Block TV commercials to fight this challenge are in development and will augment our current marketing campaign that is all about the tax pro. Legal considerations are being assessed and appropriate action will be taken quickly. And we will develop a way for each of you to have your voice heard in support of yourself and all our tax professionals – stay tuned for more specifics this week.
The season begins next January 30, and we are focused on executing our plan. Don’t let these commercials be a distraction – we’ve got this covered. Instead, stay focused on your day-to-day efforts to deliver for our clients – this is our best response. And let every client or potential client who is a plumber, retail clerk, salesperson or other hardworking American know we are honored to serve them.
We believe in our people. I believe in our people – and I want the world to know I’ve got your back.
Bill Cobb | CEO | H&R Block