When tax titans attack: H&R goes up against TurboTax

But it's all done with a smile.

A new digital advertising campaign for H&R Block features a blues musician singing the tweets of disgruntled TurboTax users.

H&R Block agency Deutsch Los Angeles created eight 20-to-30 second spots of tax filer beefs for the campaign which launches this week and will appear on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook until filing day, April 15th.

What makes the spots so charming and memorable is blues musician Greg Lawrence, who puts some passion into his delivery and removes the sting by ending each song with a big smile.

"We’re always listening and monitoring all tax conversations on social," said Doris Chung, executive vice president and executive creative director at Deutsch. "And the loudest of them all are tax woes, frustrations, anxiety, anger. So, we wanted to not only recognize their frustrations but empathize and provide a solution to their qualms.

"By utilizing blues music as a vehicle for storytelling, we wanted to create a campaign that people actually wanted to watch and hear."

About half of the spots are tweets from college students who get vocal about TurboTax double-dipping fees for home and university states of residence and student loan interest deductions.  

Lawrence soulfully pleads one TurboTax customers tweet: "Recent graduates. @TurboTax will charge you $40-$80 for the student loan interest deduction, but @HRBlock will do it for free. Learn from my mistake. (Yeah.)"

The campaign was shot at Deutsch's own production facility at its Playa Vista/Los Angeles offices. 

"We actually have a speakeasy bar at our production shop, Steelhead Studios," said Chung. "The bar, 'Sheldon’s' is named after Deutsch’s former CEO, Mike Sheldon."

This is Deutsch's second tax season with H&R Block. The agency launched a more traditional product-benefit campaign in January.

"It’s Better with Block" spots feature humorous scenarios of people interacting with the expert spokesperson. 

TurboTax agency Wieden+Kennedy declined to comment and TurboTax did not respond to Campaign’s inquiries. TurboTax unveiled its "All People are Tax People" campaign in January.

Some of the most legendary advertising out there pits brand against brand in direct competition. Coke and Pepsi have traded barbs for decades.

Apple’s "I’m a Mac/I’m a PC" spots skewered owners by pitting a hip, young guy against a dorky middle-manager type. More recently, Popeye’s launched its chicken sandwich by pointing out that you could buy one on a Sunday, unlike rival Chick-fil-A, which famously observes the Sabbath.

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