Cast your eyes over any ad from a tax refund company and you’ll see a similar slapstick comedy style that plays on the excitement of receiving a refund. WooHoo is no exception to that, as it’s made a name for itself as a tax refund provider with humorous TVCs that compare massages and birds to a tax refund.
But the online tax agency’s services go beyond tax refunds as it can also help people with their tax obligations and returns.
Its digital marketing manager, Phil Van Bussel, says the humour and wacky tone in its advertising to date had diluted that message. So this year, it decided to tone that back and take a more mature approach to show its availability to New Zealanders of all employment types.
“We’re trying to move away from people thinking that getting the money from us is the ‘woohoo moment’ but more in that we are WooHoo and dealing with us is the ‘woohoo moment’,” he says.
To do that, it turned to its media strategist and buyer of 12 years Media Co, which sought pitches from agencies to develop a creative strategy across TV, website and social media content and potentially most other media in the longer term.
The winning creative was ‘Show Me The Money’, developed by video agency Omnicron and independent creative director Uwe Engbers.
Media Co director of strategy and business Simon Gentry says while it was a privilege to have WooHoo give it the scope to do what it wanted, all three businesses worked collaboratively to bring the creative to life, which is what’s made it such a success.
Being a video agency, Omnicron used a network of specialists from media, creative and production to bring it all together and the result is a campaign that managing director Ondrej Havas says takes a warm and friendly approach to WooHoo’s offering.
A series of two TVCs—one about tax refunds and the other about tax returns—features a wide range of New Zealanders seeing the benefits of WooHoo’s services.
There are students receiving a refund while contractors, freelancers and self-employed New Zealanders use the service to do their tax returns.
And although they use the same energetic music and style, they are differentiated by a different cast and voiceover. Instead, the tax refund spot features younger actors and ZM’s Fletch as the voiceover, while the tax return spot features mature contractors and business owners with the voiceover of a mature woman.
And while the spots have not long been on air, WooHoo has already seen an 80 percent increase in its website tracking when comparing the first five days following the campaign’s launch to the first five days following last year’s campaign launch. That boost is set to continue as tax season officially gets underway on Saturday.
No doubt adding to the appeal of this campaign is the genuine representation of New Zealanders through its use of real people.
Omnicron used a talent agency to find them, however, Havas put an emphasis on selecting people who felt comfortable in front of the camera and played the part in real life as well as in the campaign.
He gives the example of asking the talent agency if it had a fisherman on its books, and by chance it did. In real life, the campaign’s fisherman works one job from Monday to Friday and on weekend, takes people out on his boat.
The small details like this were an important part of WooHoo’s brief and its communications manager, Kylie Keown, says he’s a perfect candidate for WooHoo’s assistance because running a business requires different tax knowledge to making an earning as an employee.
“You can feel that in the campaign, it doesn’t feel forced, it’s light and relatable. It’s that attention to detail that really made the experience with them,” she says.
Van Bussel adds none of the settings had been staged so the woman seen working in the clothes shop is in a real work environment.
Just as Omnicron made sure the campaign’s appearance drew audiences in, it made sure the sound added to that further. So it called on its network of creatives to employ local producer Alan Jansson, who’s known for being the producer and co-writer of the worldwide hit ‘How Bizarre’.
Havas says if you ignore the soundtrack, you’re ignoring a major part of the communication so it got Jansson to write the ‘Show Me The Money’ song, performed by Bryson from NZ hip hop pioneers, Dam Native, which is set to stick in people’s heads and make it a stand out ad.
And looking beyond the TV screen, WooHoo’s brief asked for social media collateral to support the campaign and it was impressed by Omnicron’s willingness to deliver on that without repeating the behaviour of its past campaign, which saw the same content on TV and online.
“If you put something on Facebook, other than a commercial, you’re increasing the love for the brand and increasing the connectivity between people who follow you,” Havas says.
“They don’t want to see the commercial again when you visit on YouTube, they want to have a joke, have a laugh – they don’t want to be sold.”
He says even though the ads speak to the same audience, when they’re sitting watching YouTube or scrolling through their social media feed, they’re in a different mindset to when they’re sitting in an armrest watching TV. The key, he says, is understanding this and knowing how to talk to them.
Comparing it to using different language in a formal letter to an email or a text, he says, “I might be saying the same thing, but I’m using a different language”.
“With social media or YouTube or the internet, we have to be consistent with what we say, but we say it in a slightly different way.”
Armed with this knowledge, Omnicron employed a photographer and separate film crew, that were dedicated to capturing the action on the days it was shooting.
Those stills are able to be shared on WooHoo’s website while behind the scenes videos will add more content into the mix on social media.
Keown says this light-hearted approach on social media is new territory for WooHoo, but she commends Omnicron for involving it and helping it to see the value.
She and Van Bussel have a background in design and after four years working with the online tax agency, they didn’t want to be working with a bigger advertising agency that would take on the project and disconnect itself from WooHoo.
Instead, Keown says Omnicron and the team of contractors involved them in every step of the way, taking feedback and allowing them to have a say in all the details.
Havas wouldn’t have it any other way, saying Omnicron’s work to benefit itself as well as the client is one of the differences between Omnicron and traditional agencies.
“For us, we are very passionate about a project. Yes, everyone needs to make money, feed our families and pay the mortgage, but I see money as a by-product of a job done right,” he says.
“A lot of traditional agencies have KPIs to meet and so when business comes in through the door, it’s numbers, so it’s about how much they can get out of the client to keep in their pockets and then they can move onto the next job.”
However, Omnicron has no board to report to. Instead, Havas says: “we wouldn’t be doing it if we didn’t enjoy it.”
This story is part of a content partnership with Omnicron.