IRS, NIH renew pacts with Ogilvy

WASHINGTON: Both the Internal Revenue Service and the National Institutes of Health have re-signed contracts with Ogilvy to promote federal initiatives.

WASHINGTON: Both the Internal Revenue Service and the National Institutes of Health have re-signed contracts with Ogilvy to promote federal initiatives.

The IRS has paid the firm $1.7 million to continue promoting its tax return preparer and free-filing programs, according to award notices. 

For the free-filing program, the IRS largely credits previous outreach efforts with the fact that “a significant number of free-file participants each year are new to the program,” said Terry Lemons, director of communications at the IRS, via email. Each year, the IRS partners with the tax software industry to provide free electronic filing services to more than 3 million taxpayers.

Ogilvy won a PRWeek Award for Public Sector Campaign of the Year in 2012 for its work on free filing. Since 2010, its campaign with the tagline “It's fast. It's safe. It's free” has targeted young consumers living on their own for the first time, struggling, lower-income families, and savvy senior citizens who are comfortable using the Internet.

Like previous years, the campaign will use public service announcements and other outreach materials to spread the word about free filing, Lemons said.  

The second program for the IRS focuses on tax return preparers. Those wishing to become tax preparers are required to pass a competency test, meet annual continuing education requirements, and renew registration annually with the IRS. The contract includes advertising, outreach, and awareness activities to ensure this audience is familiar with these requirements, said Lemons.

For the National Institutes of Health, Ogilvy will continue to support a national kidney disease education program for the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. The contract is worth just more than $2.4 million. The firm has worked on the project since 2009, a procurement representative said.

The scope of work for the contract includes outreach through events, press materials, and a toll-free phone number. It focuses on African-Americans for some outreach.

An Ogilvy representative declined to comment on the wins.

In July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention retained Ogilvy for a $1.3 million contract to promote the "Dating Matters" initiative, which promotes healthy relationships. It also hired Ogilvy to promote domestic violence data that it has collected in the past two years.

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