H&R Block: David Byers

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H&R Block has found a less-taxing way to make money.

The company began to reposition in 2000 as a year-round financial services provider to the same households that rely on Block's expertise in tax services. David Byers, senior VP-chief marketing officer since 1999, led the effort.

Block leveraged its 16 million tax clients to introduce services, including financial planning and mutual funds, through new H&R Block Financial Centers that are open all year long.

Interpublic Group of Cos.' Campbell Mithun, Minneapolis, in January broke a campaign tagged "Just plain smart." The goal was to position Block as the plain-speaking, accessible provider of financial services to Middle America. The effort included a million-dollar contest tie-in with "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" on Walt Disney Co.'s ABC, as well as other tie-ins with retailers and technology companies.

It was the first Block work from Campbell Mithun, an agency Mr. Byers hired to replace WPP Group's Y&R Advertising, New York. Media buying remained at Young & Rubicam's the Media Edge.

The cross-sell is working, says Mr. Byers, 40, a former senior VP and director of business development at Interpublic Group of Cos.' Foote, Cone & Belding Worldwide, San Francisco.

Block posted record results for the fiscal year ended April 30, and President-CEO Mark A. Ernst credited in part strategic targeting of marketing efforts to attract tax clients with more complex returns.

A campaign breaking in November will promote all of Block's major lines of business. It will be the first time it has advertised outside the tax season.

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