'Tax not taxing' ad wins award

The taxman’s TV ad campaign to get more people filing self–assessment online has scooped an industry award for effective advertising.

HM Revenue and Customs was the only public sector organisation to win a Gold award at this year’s Institute of Practitioners in Advertising Effectiveness Awards.

Featuring ex-Tomorrow’s World presenter, Adam Hart-Davies, the advert was credited with effectively hinting at a tendency to procrastinate when it comes to tax returns, and the problems that may arise as a result.

The triumphant ad incorporated the popular practice of delaying tax compliance until the last and encouraged people to overcome this, by motivating them and eliminating the perceived obstacles.

“Tax doesn’t have to be taxing” the advert concludes, in Mr Hart-Davies’ trusting authoritative voice.

Press observers will note the personally endorsed tagline is ironic, given the freelance writer's admission to the Daily Telegraph in January, that he finds the self-assessment form so taxing that his accountant completes it.

Meanwhile at the Institute’s awards, government and industry alike trumpeted the advert as delivering “impressive and crucial results” for public sector services.

The Institute’s panel of judges said the TV broadcast has been successful thanks in part to Mr Hart Davies – a spokesman for HMRC who has left the advert “stable or increasing in memorability and salience,” according to tracking studies.

This was crucial for HMRC, the judges said, because it aided with a consistency of message that was vital while the Inland Revenue merged with Customs and Excise.

Adam Goulcher, head of marketing at HMRC, reflected: “The objective of the campaign is to encourage taxpayers to file and pay on time, and to continue to encourage people to register with and use our online services.

“We are aiming to continuously improve our performance by addressing less-compliant groups of taxpayers, through targeted messaging.”

Chaired by Lord Heseltine, the panel of judges rated the Revenue’s campaign to attract taxpayers to a faster way to file as the clear winner on seven criteria, including Strength of Proof, Scale of Effect and New Learning.

Commenting on the TV ad, the political veteran who is also chairman of Haymarket Group, the publishing house, said HMRC’s preparation of the campaign was first class.

“The success of public sector papers at these awards celebrates brilliant campaigns that have generated impressive and crucial results,” Lord Heseltine said.

“The success of government-funded advertising demonstrates its vital and justified role in informing the public to the benefit of society and the economy. The Inland Revenue paper was remarkable in that the intelligent, engaging campaign was able to shift perceptions and was a brilliant example of how public sector advertising delivers results.”

Nick Smith, Chairman of the Marketing Society said that the case was “well argued and presented - and eminently readable.”

“The brand results are impressive,” added Mr Smith, a former marketing and strategy director for British Gas, “and the core objective of improving timely returns was met.”

HMRC is also re-running its best-performing radio advertisements alongside four new executions and outdoor advertising, both of which the government claims to already have proved effective.



 

13th December 2005

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