H&R Block, Intuit approach advertising differently as tax season kicks off

01/14/2014 9:20 PM

01/14/2014 9:20 PM

OK, taxpayer, time to make a choice. Do it yourself, or seek professional help?

This is how the advertising campaigns for tax preparation giants H Block and TurboTax maker Intuit have squared off in the industry’s annual dash toward April 15.

“Tax season is roughly 100 days, so we’re looking at how we can maximize our media spend,” said Julie Miller, an Intuit spokeswoman.

It means you probably have seen both companies’ ads already and will see them a lot more before tax season ends. Neither company would divulge its ad campaign budget.

TurboTax’s 90-second “The Year of the You” ad kicked off the New Year during the Rose Bowl, and a 60-second spot will run during the second quarter of the Super Bowl on Feb. 2.

H Block’s first 60-second spots aired last weekend on the Golden Globe Awards and National Football League playoff games.

Watch for both companies’ pitches as “American Idol” premieres tonight.

And just to make this year’s media fight interesting, there may be a billion dollars at stake.

That’s the message behind H Block’s campaign for its retail stores, online, software and mobile tax help.

Block says its Second Look reviews of Americans’ tax returns last year found that one in five of us missed credits and deductions. Collectively, the company says, that means taxpayers left more than $1 billion of their money in the U.S. Treasury.

H Block ads this year

show us what $1 billion looks like

. It’s enough to plunk $500 onto every seat of every professional football stadium in the country, or carpet the soccer fields of all 32 teams in the World Cup, or fill 36 palettes spread across the jet elevator on an aircraft carrier.

“This is your money. Get it back with Block,” says Richard Gartland, the bow-tied Block tax guy in Los Angeles who returns after last year’s employee-oriented campaign.

And the tag line in every Block ad: “Get your billion back, America.”