JUST THE MENTION OF APRIL 15 can cause some of us to break out in hives. Filing taxes always feels more complicated than it
should, money is at stake and we suddenly have
to put rusty math skills to the test. TurboTax,
which helped file around 30 million returns last
year, recognizes that angst and built a multi-year
marketing plan to address what it calls “FUD:
Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt” regarding taxes.
Each year, the company—which specializes in
online, desktop, and mobile filing—tackles one
of those emotions in its marketing campaign.
Now in its third year, the 2016 campaign is all
about easing self-doubt.
“There are a lot of negative emotions around
taxes. We are going after the doubt and self-
doubt—all of our insecurities,” says Greg John-
son. He is senior vice president of marketing for
Intuit’s Consumer Tax Group, which includes
Turbo Tax. “We are showing how TurboTax en-
ables the consumer to feel confident that they
can do taxes right and get their refund back.”
This year’s campaign—“It doesn’t take a ge-
nius to do your taxes—” features a half-doz-
en new TV spots created in conjunction with
Wieden+Kennedy and multicultural agency
Grupo Gallegos. The spots, including a Super-
bowl ad, play up the simplicity of the Turbo Tax
product while poking fun at unnecessary fears.
They feature regular people asking for help on
a tax question while a “real-life genius” like
theoretical physicist Michio Kaku demonstrates
just how easy it is. It’s pure tongue-in-cheek and
made to put us all at ease.
Mobiles are featured prominently in the ads—
and that’s intentional. Johnson says TurboTax,
which positions itself as a technology company,
finds that every time it shows mobiles in adver-
tising, “it drives great return on our ads.”
“The more we embrace mobile, the better our
overall business becomes,” he adds, noting it
also boosts its rep as a tech and design-savvy or-
ganization. It doesn’t hurt its campaign to drive
use of its two-year-old mobile app and site either.
Forty percent of its customers used Turbo Tax on
a mobile device at some point in the tax prep
process, the company said.
“Our advertising is important because it sets
a narrative and context around our brand, but
when we think about managing customer relationships, delivering units of revenue short-term
and long-term, the heart of our capabilities are
digital marketing,” Johnson says.
It “scaled up” push notifications to app users
this year with deeper segmentation and personalization, says Cathleen Ryan, director of mar-
TAX FEARS WITH A
BY ROSE GORDON