What You Can Learn from the H&R Block Hipster Ad Campaign And Do Low Budget

hipster tax

Hipsters are everywhere these days. They’re a large portion of the Millennial generation and you shouldn’t have any trouble spotting them in public. Their pants are usually too tight, they often sport bizarre haircuts or retro fedoras and the males often sport beards. The ladies don those too-big eyeglasses popular in the 60’s – even if they don’t need them. They’re being “ironic.”

H&R Block is targeting this group in an online video campaign about a supposed “Hipster Tax Crisis.” The online video campaign shows hipsters being interviewed about what they plan to do with their tax returns. If you’ve somehow missed it, here’s the first video:

Of course, the campaign isn’t about a hipster crisis at all. Instead, it’s an attempt to get them to use the service and give H&R Block a new image as a hipper brand ready to reinvent itself, H&R Block’s director of social influence Scott Gulbransen explained to the New York Times:

“[They] look at us and say, ‘That’s my dad’s, my granddad’s tax company.’ And our competition, TurboTax, is a little more hip, if you will.”

So what can small businesses learn from a large, well-established business launching a huge re-branding campaign?

Well, you don’t need to hire big names like ESPN’s Kenny Mayne or spend close to a half-million dollars to make an impact.

Below are some of the basics any business can employ to create a campaign that resonates.

Business Lessons: Hipster Tax Crisis Ad Campaign

Use Video to Connect With Your Target Audience

While H&R Block may not necessarily get a flood of hipsters to begin using their services this tax season, the company stands to gain some new customers who may have overlooked it in the past. When it comes time to prepare your taxes, people who haven’t decided on a tax prep service will likely remember these rather comical ads.

hipster tax

Creating a memorable online video, humorous or otherwise, doesn’t need to break the bank, either. Remember this recent video that elevated fashion startup Wren. Done for just $1,300, it has amassed more than 64 million views on YouTube in just 10 days.

Use Hashtags to Help People Track the Conversation

The new campaign uses #HipsterTax to help others follow the conversation on Twitter and other social media.

You can do something similar by using a promoted hashtage to encourage others to share, follow and add to the conversation in social media.

Boost Engagement and Measure Impact

H&R Block also set up a special website, Hipster Tax Crisis, and is encouraging viewers to share videos from the campaign at the site during the 2014 tax season. In return the company says it will make a donation to Covenant House, an organization for homeless youths.

hipster tax

You can encourage similar sharing among your target audience as a way to increase engagement with your message and measure overall impact. It’s an easy way to determine whether your audience is really paying attention.


Joshua Sophy Joshua Sophy is the Editor for Small Business Trends and the Head of Content Partnerships. A journalist with 20 years of experience in traditional and online media, he is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. He founded his own local newspaper, the Pottsville Free Press, covering his hometown.

3 Reactions
  1. These are some excellent points on how to extend reach to an audience. Don’t ask them to share; create interesting content that they will want to share. And speak to them in a voice they can hear but don’t fake it. An audience can tell when you pretend to speak their language. Thanks for the great article (and the cool commercial)

  2. While I am not generally a fan of the hipster market, I still agree that you can learn a lot from the way this ad is made. Aside from the fact that putting your ad on video and getting personal can really boost your business, it can also teach a lot of businesses on how to market to the millenials of today.