Cannes Lions


KETCHUM, Washington D.C. / H&R BLOCK / 2015

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Case Film






Tax Time + Block Expertise = Billion Back

Einstein said the theory of relativity was elementary compared to the U.S. tax code. “The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax,” he said. No wonder one in five taxpayers who prepare their own returns send the government too much money, resulting in $1 billion in unclaimed funds.

H&R Block called attention to this by launching the “Get Your Billion Back America” campaign to show the mountains of cash self-preparers left behind with the Internal Revenue Service by failing to claim proper tax credits/deductions.

Block—which has helped clients get $50 billion+ in tax refunds since 2010—wanted the integrated campaign to raise brand awareness especially among young adults and Hispanics, drive leads and traffic, and build business. This got us thinking: Millions share a sense of helplessness/despair when it comes to “death and taxes.” So we set out to prove tax preparation can be a feel-good, wallet-fattening experience.

We created every taxpayer’s fantasy: the Billion Back Cash Machine—an interactive kiosk/ATM—and set it up in malls and sporting events. Consumers flocked to it for hours, told us how they’d use their piece of the billion, and the machine did the unthinkable—it gave consumers a taste of what it’s like to get money back from Uncle Sam. The kiosk caused squeals of delight when it dispensed cash symbolizing consumers’ piece of the billion. People got the message: let Block put real money in your pocket. National media cashed in on the story, firm sales leads mounted, and the campaign attracted 4 million new customers.

Einstein would have approved.


Taking Our Fantasy Tax Relief Kiosk to America

We invented the Billion Back Cash Machine—part touchscreen kiosk, computer, photo/video booth, and ATM—and placed it in high-traffic malls and sporting events in five markets to reach target “upswingers,” including Latinos, a quarter of our audience.

Participants sat at our kiosk to take a two-minute tax quiz (English/Spanish). They told us what they would do with their piece of the billion dollars – and the ATM spit out either a $10 bill or $100, representing a taxpayer’s piece of the billion that’s possible to get back with Block. Consumers received photos/videos to share on social networks. Brand ambassadors scheduled tax preparation appointments on-site and distributed discounted coupons.

For laughs, we took the campaign live on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” Ellen whispered in the ear of the campaign’s star, a bowtie-clad Block tax pro, while he prepared a client’s return live on the air.


The campaign helped draw 4 million new customers to H&R Block.

We motivated taxpayers to see tax season as a previously unrealized financial opportunity in which they could get more money back by seeking Block’s expertise. Our Billion Back Cash Machine delivered symbolic tax relief to thousands, producing squeals as we surprised them with cash. Across just five markets, in just a few hours at malls/sporting events, we directly exposed 212,000 consumers to brand messaging, distributed 1,550+ tax-prep coupons ($31,000 in savings), secured 160+ customers on the spot with booked appointments, and landed another 550+ firm sales leads. We extended the experience online with 8,000+ video views.

Media Results:

• Garnered 185.3MM+ media impressions

• Satellite media tour secured 30 TV/radio interviews and 8.1MM impressions

• Spanish-language media tour generated 1MM+ impressions

• Reached 5.57MM via broadcast channels and 20.8MM online through “The Ellen DeGeneres Show”

• “takeover” delivered 6MM+ impressions

In the end, the campaign gave taxpayers a billion reasons to smile.

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