TurboTax Dares to Become a Lifestyle Brand

TurboTax’s compelling new ads put a novel spin on how the average taxpayer thinks about filing their 1040s. Gone are the dreaded days of tabulating numbers and codes as you pay your dues to your merciless bureaucratic overlords. Instead, TurboTax dares you to view income tax filing as a delightful scrapbook of your exciting and eventful life.

TurboTax’s brilliantly titled “It’s Amazing What You’re Capable Of” campaign links personal milestones like buying a house or getting married to answering simple questions about those events on TurboTax. An Apple-esque quick succession of stylized camera shots show brides, babies, and marathon winners, evoking the joy, triumph, and pride of hard-earned accomplishments. Because taxes, an upbeat voiceover explains, are just “a recap. The story of your year.”

Unlike the tax prep commercials of yesteryear, TurboTax’s campaign strays from the tired promises of hidden deductions and expert advisors. It takes a step back and shows what it offers on a meta-level: the chance to review the last 12 months of triumphs and travails, through a fiscal lens.

The vision of connecting with customers’ lives on a deeper level isn’t novel. There are a long line of successful “lifestyle brands” like Apple and Nike that rise above their product categories and seek to inspire and build an emotional connection between the customer and the brand.

TurboTax’s recasting of the drudgery of tax preparation in this ad campaign is just the first step in the uphill battle to become a successful lifestyle brand. Continued strategic messaging presenting an innovative view of taxes is needed to surround the brand with the semantics and ideology that accompany lifestyles brands. TurboTax has decades of tax prejudice to overcome, but this impressive ad campaign marks a strong start.