H&R Block Shows Content Marketing Personality
A Content Marketing Milestone: Big Brand Shows Personality
A Content Marketing Milestone: Big Brand Shows Personality

Approximately 99.6 percent of the pitches I get from public relations folks are about social media campaigns their firm or client is launching. For whatever reason, they think we care. It’s not that we categorically do not, but that launching a campaign is not news. Finishing one and providing the metrics as a case study is normally pretty interesting, though.

Unfortunately, for competitive reasons, paranoia or simple ignorance, brands never want to share the back-end metrics on much. And alas, we’re left with few case studies that really help.

But every now and then, a launch comes along that is a case study in and of itself. And while I have some personal ties to this one (just that I’ve contributed voluntarily to the campaign and a friend is largely responsible for the content), I have to tell you what H&R Block is up to this spring. It is, quite frankly, a milestone in content marketing. A big, successful corporation is breaking the mold of its own, traditional voice and showing a ton of personality.

It’s a WOW moment that is seldom seen.

The accounting company has thrown its support behind the Million Stache March — a farcical political movement to bring a $250 tax credit to mustached Americans instigated by the American Mustache Institute. AMI is the brainchild of my friend Aaron Perlut who routinely dons a lab coat to appear on live, national television to advocate for the “plight” of the mustached American. Some media members take him seriously, even calling him “Dr. Perlut” despite the closest he’s ever come to being one is when his says, “Turn and cough.”

On April 1, the American Mustache Institute plans to march on Washington in an effort they admit will drive hundreds or thousands, “not likely millions,” toward Capital Hill to petition for the ‘Stache Act and the tax credit for what the organization calls more “sexually dynamic” Americans.

Every step of the way in this campaign, you just to laugh. It’s just fun and silly.

But H&R Block, not known (at least in my estimation) to be a fun or silly brand, is supporting the campaign. Not only because the tax credit thing plays right into what they do for people, but AMI’s content hits a critical target for H&R Block – men age 21-36 who need to be reminded of their tax deadline. All this happens on April 1 — just two weeks away from the big tax day.

Topping it all off is the fact H&R Bock will donate money for each ‘stache represented in the petition/march to Millions for One, a charitable organization that brings fresh drinking water to those around the world that don’t have access.

So there’s warm an fuzzy beyond the flavor saver!

The campaign features a Facebook application where you can ‘Stache yourself in support, which is also how you sign the petition. I’ve done it. Hell, it helps people get drinking water. Why wouldn’t you?

It’s all quite brilliant. So much so that I’ve invited Scott Gulbransen, H&R Block’s director of social media, to be my fireside chat guest at Explore Nashville. (Tickets go on sale soon. But rest assured, we’re going to talk about this campaign and how his brand donned a bit of personality this tax season.)

And, because both Scott and Aaron are friends and I think this campaign is uber cool — not to mention, I am a member of the segment of America that, according to AMI, is 38 percent better looking — I offered this to support the campaign and encourage folks to sign up!

When people like me talk about content marketing, about creating something outstanding that makes people jump back and say, “Holy Smokes!” this is what we’re talking about. H&R Block is doing something completely out of character by supporting the AMI effort to make some noise in jest about mustached Americans getting a tax credit. But it’s done with direct topical ties to the brand and direct connections to a key target audience for them. It makes perfect sense, but it’s also outstanding and unique.

Kudos to H&R Block for crossing that comfort zone and doing something outstanding. Now if the rest of us could learn from this, we could make our social media and content marketing much more attractive to our audiences.

About the Author

Jason Falls
Jason Falls is the founder of Social Media Explorer and one of the most notable and outspoken voices in the social media marketing industry. He is a noted marketing keynote speaker, author of two books and unapologetic bourbon aficionado. He can also be found at JasonFalls.com.
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  • Hal

    you’re one of those who are good for writing books and blogs criticizing social media experts who promise things that they can’t guarantee, but you always refuse to actually call out the ones who do it.  We both know who I mean and so does she, Jase.  But have a nice day profiting off the activities of SM charlatans. 

    • I understand your comment, Hal, but can’t for the life of me figure out what it has to do with this post or anything relevant to what this particular discussion is about. It’s just hateraide for someone unrelated. As such, it’s off-topic. Happy to entertain some intelligent discourse on this campaign or content marketing. But if you insist on commenting only to fire off insults at me or other practitioners, I’d respectfully ask you to do that elsewhere.


      • Hal

        Hey Jason, where’s the haterade exactly – I mean, other than hers and perhaps your over-defensiveness?  I can’t understand for the life of me why you refuse to acknowledge your own hostility toward traditional PR campaigns and the similar hostility exhibited by That Person on here in your comments section?  You know, the one where she ranted about receiving “48 emails from PR” overnight which of course makes no sense unless she herself knowingly established content with supposed 48+ PR persons? 

        I really don’t think grandstanding and bashing the way your “friend” does on PR and of course writers as well arises to the level of anything like “intelligent discourse” nor do I find your disingenuous line of defense anything remotely intelligent either.  Perhaps if you exhibited a minimum of professional integrity and walked the walk as you talked the talk, then you could actually achieve something more than preaching to a choir in book without merit and stonewalling on behalf of “friends” with even less. 

        • Now I’m not sure what you’re talking about. If you did your homework and focused your attention on me rather than someone you have some beef with that has nothing to do with Sociam Media Explorer, you’d see that I’m actually a public relations professional, was long before social medi marketing ever entered the picture and have only tried to help traditional PR folks get acclimated to the world of social media.

          My defensiveness is only for the integrity of this blog and it’s comments. This post has nothing to do with your obsession, little to do with public relations in the sense that I would be hostile toward anything and my responses to you have only been to illustrate that you’re off-topic and we would appreciate you taking your hatred for someone who has nothing to do with this post elsewhere.

          If you keep it on-topic, your comments are welcome. It appears, however, you just dropped by to associate your distaste for someone else with me and your own mistaken impression of what I write and believe.

          • Hal

            I’m addressing comments on this self-same blog which you as a supposed former trad PR failed to refute – rather, you enable them.  Should I provide you the link?  So enough of your talk about either integrity or being off-topic.  You allow plenty of “off-topic” when it’s your hater pals doing it on PR. 

          • To be clear, if your comments are not on-topic to the conversation about this post, this thread, I will take that to mean you are not cooperating with my respectful requests. As such, I will remove and perhaps block you from commenting. I don’t like to do that and only do so when the commenter leaves me little choice.

            If you have issues with other posts on this blog, please follow your link and comment there.

            Thank you.

          • Hal

             Your own comments to me were hardly respectful, rather rude and insulting and condescending all the time.  I was responding to what you said back to me, so I was in fact on topic.  And as you well know, I already responded within that other blog and you already removed both my responses and your pal’s when she inevitably added her own insults. 

  • Hal

    you’re one of those who are good for writing books and blogs criticizing social media experts who promise things that they can’t guarantee, but you always refuse to actually call out the ones who do it.  We both know who I mean and so does she, Jase.  But have a nice day profiting off the activities of SM charlatans. 

  • I can’t wait until I launch my first content marketing campaign and deliver you some stats proving it was awesome. Until then, I’ll do what I can to deliver some good commentary!

    Aside from your H&R Block example, Allstate has added an uber dose of personality to their brand with Mayhem. They went from another boring insurance company best known for having the former president from 24 as their spokesman to a viral success with that crazy mayhem dude. That is personality!

    • Great example, Tony. Thanks for sharing!

  • There are millions of others ways to market sites, products and services out there and you just have to be creative. 

  • This is the key when developing a marketing plan. Before you can even decide on what content to write, what content to use, or how to run your campaign, it’s important to know who you’re targeting and what kind of content will grab their attention. Great post mate, its really a helpful discussion.

  • It’s going to be interesting if they can release some numbers after the end of the campaign – increase in sales, brand recognition, anything worthwhile.

    I’m also wondering what sort of impact this will have on their overall brand image. Now that they started walking on this new personality path, this should become consistent with the rest of their marketing as well. If you have any insights into that, it would be very interesting to know…

    • Good point, Dragos. I’m not sure that I think one campaign that is focused on a certain segment of their audience means they need to completely overhaul their marketing. Having a sense of humor and focusing on that young, professional male audience here doesn’t mean they have to focus on it everywhere. But it certainly opens up the opportunity for them to not take themselves so seriously in other target areas, too.

      Still, I see this as perhaps an isolated campaign and effort that lightens the marketing mood a bit, but doesn’t necessarily dictate wholesale changes to the brand. This type of approach probably wouldn’t work well with an older demographic that is serious about their taxes and doesn’t want some accountant who’s perceived to be a jokester. So for that audience, they would communicate differently.

      • This brings up a way more interesting conversation. Now that brands can easily reach very niche, different demographic segments easily and at a low cost, how does that change marketing communications and brand identity? 

        Can you still serve very different segments by communicating in very different ways and so projecting very different brand images without diluting your core brand identity too much? How far can you go with this?

        • Great question. I think you can segment and target in ways you never could before. It makes your marketing more complex, but certainly doesn’t disallow you from doing so. Keep in mind that the mass-reach mechanisms (TV, print, etc.) can still be a unified voice with solid brand personality that is consistent throughout multiple channels while the niche audience channels (social media, email segmentation, etc.) can have a face and voice of their own that ladders up to the overall brand identity, but carves out its own niche within that target.

          It’s complex and creatively challenging, but certainly not impossible. Geico does a nice job of differentiation between market segments even within their own advertising. It would be neat to find an example of someone doing the niche thing with multiple audiences, though. Be on the look out!

    • But Dragos, your point would be better stated had you been adorned in an upper lip garment.


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