H&R Block Responds to TurboTax Ads

TurboTax pokes fun at H&R Block in two recent ads, and H&R Block is fighting back

The first ad shows a salesperson in a retail store helping a customer. When the customer realizes the woman did her taxes for her, she says, "I thought you were an expert with returns."

With a similar message, the second ad shows an H&R Block employee as a plumber. 

TurboTax is differentiating its product by promising that users get advice only from CPAs, EAs, and tax attorneys-"real tax attorneys." In the commercial, TurboTax also claims that more Americans used the system than all H&R Block and other tax stores combined.

Bill Cobb, CEO, H&R Block called the ads "outrageous" and sent this email to reassure employees:

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.

Discussion Starters:

  • What strategies of persuasion does TurboTax use in its commercials? 
  • What strategies does Cobb use in his email to employees? 
  • Which do you find more convincing and why?