TurboTax finds new meaning in the question ‘What Did You Make This Year?’

Who: Intuit TurboTax Canada, with Library Collective for strategy and creative; Grayson Music for sound; Zenith Media for media.

What: “What Did You Make This Year?” a new Canadian content series timed for tax season that turns one of the key questions on every tax return into the starting point for a creative platform. It is Library Collective’s first work with the tax preparation service.

When & Where: The campaign is in market now, running as pre-roll and social, and on TurboTax’s owned and operated channels. In addition to the videos, some of the still photography captured during a cross-Canada shoot late last year is being turned into out-of-home ads.

“We’re using it everywhere we can,” said Stefania Mancini, head of marketing, Canadian consumer brands at Intuit. “It’s beautifully shot, stunning work and it represents our real customers. We want to remind our employees every day why we get up.”

Why: The goal is to create marketing that’s simultaneously emotional and emotive, said Mancini. “We know that people don’t get excited about filing their taxes—what they get excited about is building a wonderful and unique life. Taxes are just a review of your life, an accounting of what you’ve done that year.”

The brand continues to shift away from product-focused marketing and messaging towards marketing which is capable of demonstrating that it hears and understands its customers and their needs, she said. “This year we’re really leaning into it.”

How: “What Did You Make This Year?” arose out of a lengthy brainstorming session last year that saw Library Collective co-founder Jed Churcher jot down multiple ideas. “I wrote a manifesto,” he said. “There were no fancy mood boards or anything like that. I wrote this manifesto, pitched it to client, and they literally said yes on the spot.”

The creative approach arose out of Library Collective’s belief that every creative campaign arises out of the right casting upfront—finding real people with personal stories that align with TurboTax’s creative strategy. TurboTax spoke with more than 100 customers last summer to find a collection of people whose stories would resonate with Canadians from all backgrounds and locations.

“We told the client that everyone’s going to have a bit of a different answer, and it’s going to force them to look at their tax season as a way of reflecting and saying ‘This year, I made quite a bit,'” said Churcher. “It can be something tangible, but it can also be something like ‘I made my father proud’ or really emotional.”

The campaign is built around eight customer stories, four of which are being told via long-form videos averaging about three minutes co-directed by Christian Tisdale and Liam Mullaney, while the others are built around photos by Tisdale.

The videos feature interviews with Canadian TurboTax users and creators who have made something besides money in the past year, including Andrew Szeto, who makes distinctive art pieces from recycled skateboards; and Richelle Trellenberg, who operates a mobile motorcycle repair shop.

There’s minimal mention of taxes or tax preparation, beyond customers saying that using TurboTax allows them to focus on the things that truly matter to them. “You won’t see or hear anything like ‘My tax expert was great,'” said Mancini.

Anything else? The content series is part of a wave of advertising for the tax preparation service that’s currently in market across Canada, including a recent Super Bowl spot created by Wieden+Kennedy as part of the brand’s North American “Come to TurboTax” platform, as well as Canada-specific work developed by Cossette that leverages the brand’s two-year-old partnership with the Toronto Raptors.

“It’s been atypical in the past, but I’d like to be typical in the future,” said Mancini of the multi-pronged marketing approach. “We want to get taxes done for everybody, and that’s a lot of different people.”

All of the creative elements currently in market are built around the idea that TurboTax wants to help customers with their taxes because it knows they have a life, said Mancini. “It’s that insight that’s driving us to examine that from a number of different aspects.”

And we quote: “We know that brand really helps customers connect, and if we create an affinity with them, they will trust us to do their taxes,” said Mancini. “We believe strongly, based on the threads of the work we did last year, that learning into this is going to produce significant business results.”

Chris Powell