H&R Block and Carmichael Lynch Relate won Campaign of the Year at the PRWeek Awards U.S. on Thursday night in New York City for their effort Championing Equity for Collegiate Women Athletes.
The campaign was, in the words of one judge, built around a "strong strategy of using a relevant cultural moment and dialogue."
That moment was the NCAA's decision to change its name, image and likeness rules in 2021, opening up revenue streams for college athletes. The bulk of endorsement deals that followed went to male athletes, at a ratio of roughly two to one.
By bringing the issue of gender equity to the table, H&R Block demonstrated its commitment to being a responsible company working to drive change. The company also did its part to correct the imbalance by providing $1 million in scholarships to 19 female athletes. Those athletes, in turn, were encouraged to use their voices to speak out about equity in college athletics. The campaign also provided tax services and support to female athletes with their tax filings, which, in several cases, had become more complicated because of NIL deals.
The campaign was built on earned media relations with 1,657 stories, many in top sports, pop culture and lifestyle media. A TikTok hashtag challenge starring South Carolina Gamecock star Zia Cooke (#AFairShotwithBlock) racked up more than 11 billion views. Finally, net trust for H&R Block among Gen Z increased by 11% and favorability jumped by 23% among college students.
Honorable mention went to St. Jude Global and Finn Partners for Facing War. Fighting Cancer, which informed the world about St. Jude's action to evacuate children being treated for cancer and their families to central Poland from Ukraine after Russia's invasion.