H&R Block used pre-game push for Super Bowl buzz

MINNEAPOLIS: It's no secret that advertisers who spend millions for a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl use PR tactics to get the most bang for their advertising buck. In fact, over the years the advertising spectacle has become a focus of water-cooler conversation on Monday morning, many times overshadowing the game itself.

MINNEAPOLIS: It's no secret that advertisers who spend millions for a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl use PR tactics to get the most bang for their advertising buck. In fact, over the years the advertising spectacle has become a focus of water-cooler conversation on Monday morning, many times overshadowing the game itself.

This year, Weber Shandwick client H&R Block hoped for a touchdown with its ad, which for the second consecutive year features tax-addled country singer Willie Nelson emphasizing the importance of seeking professional help when filing taxes.

Randy Sands, an SVP in the Minneapolis office of WS, led the team that was charged with providing buzz for the commercial, created by Interpublic sister Campbell Mithun. Helping drive interest in the ad was the promise of an appearance by a mystery celebrity at the end of the spot. WS used this appearance to build anticipation for the commercial.

"Our main strategy is to hype the ad and get attention for the brand," said Sands before the game aired. "The timing with the Super Bowl is perfect for H&R Block because it's right before tax season."

WS decided not to take part in a package of Super Bowl ads that are sent to journalists and news outlets and instead developed a three-pronged approach to hyping the ad, including a press release, traditional media relations, and b-roll of a part of the spot. In addition, there was a satellite and radio media tour in the days before the Super Bowl.

"It's for them to get the word out about the Block Advantage [product] and gives them a chance to reinforce the brand's message," Sands said. "For the last decade or so, advertising at the Super Bowl has had a spotlight shining on it. We want to make sure that the next day, people are talking about our ad."

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