Scattered Brilliance

From my brain to paper (or pixels as the case may be)

Archive for business

H&R Block YouTube campaign gone bad.

When the marketing team at H&R Block put this campaign together, I don’t think they envisioned having to leave a comment like this in the comments of that same campaign;

“Hey there YouTubers. I’m the director of online marketing for H&R Block’s digital tax solutions. I appreciate your comments about transparency and I want to let you know that I couldn’t agree more. I thought we were pretty overt about making it clear that Truman was our creation and not a real person. The thought that anyone might think we were trying to pull one over on you makes me ill. Not the intention at all. So if you feel we led you astray, I sincerely apologize.
Truman is just our way of acknowledging that no one really wants to think about taxes and that we really have to go out on a limb to get anyone to pay attention to a (not very sexy) subject that could actually have a big impact on your pocket book.
Thanks for your Comments!

Wow, reading that again three thoughts cross my mind.

(1) The campaign missed the mark. The more you watch the fictional Truman, the more you actually like him. But the first impression I got was confusion over who Truman was and why he was talking to me on YouTube. I figured it out pretty quickly, but I immediately wrote him off.

(2) I feel terrible for “A” over at H&R Block. They clearly put creative effort, thought, and resources against this campaign. This response clearly wasn’t what they expected. Talk about having to eat crow.

(3) I give “A” a tremendous amount of credit for stepping up and joining the conversation around this campaign. I would encourage them to post a video response and to find a way to capitalize on the humor that lies underneath their character Truman.

New “conversational marketing” is a tricky space. I think the lines of content and advertising is often close to being crossed. I also think that the audience within many of the new media and social networking worlds are much more fickle and cynical towards advertising. If it doesn’t add value or if it’s “lame”, you run into situations like this.

It’s interesting. If this campaign ran on TV, would H&R Block have ever known if their character was resonating or not? If “Dude, your getting a Dell Steven” was a YouTube creation would he have been similarly dismissed as a “gay capitalist creation?

We are in a new world of marketing. One that is transparent both ways. Marketers must be transparent to consumers, because consumers won’t pull any punches with their views back.


Good customer service is a reciprocal relationship.

Dealing with medicine, doctors, pharmacists, insurance, etc is never easy; especially when there are real uncertain health risks at stake. My wife is taking a round of medicine that isn’t your average antibiotic to help with some current, and scary, goings on. As if that weren’t enough, I went to the local Walgreens today and there appeared to be an insurance issue preventing a refill of the meds that she is prescribed to take twice a day.

To make a long story short, amidst a bunch of chaos and confusion, Kristine at Walgreens rose to the moment and walked me through the issue calmly and was really looking to help find a solution that wouldn’t leave my wife without those meds first thing in the morning.

What I realized was that her as she was dealing with three different “me’s” (customers with issues) at the same time, if any of us got frustrated with things that were in fact out of her control, her ability to help any of us would be tremendously compromised by the rush of adrenaline that would boil with the confrontation that may ensue.

What I came to understand very clearly in that moment was that customer service isn’t just something that as customers we can blindly expect. We have to enter into the relationship with the right mindset as well, understanding the other person’s limitations and sphere of influence and respecting their wont and desire to help us in our time of need.

When we do that, we are more likely to receive the level of customer service that we feel like we are entitled to.

I think back to a recent flight from Las Vegas to Manchester, NH coming home from CES and an extremely disgruntled passenger who berated the flight staff at every turn for slights that were half in his mind. Did his attitude give him the right to good service from the Southwest flight crew? To their credit, they handled it as you would hope and took the high road. But you have to wonder, did the service level to the entire flight of passengers suffer because of the lack of consideration of one of our fellow customers to those serving us? I would venture to say that likely, it did.

So, the lesson for me; treat the service representative on the other side of the transaction with the respect, patience, and dignity that I expect back. In the end, that will be more beneficial not only to me, but to the rest of the customers that representative deals with that day.