H&R Block in Play

Management changes at H&R Block and its agency prompted the financial services company to put its $100 million global marketing account into review, the client said.
H&R Block, Kansas City, Mo., and Young & Rubicam, Chicago, Block’s agency since 1996, have both seen top-level staff shifts in the past year. “We’re not the company we were last year,” said Block representative Linda McDougall.
H&R Block in January expanded into financial services, software and online offerings along with its traditional tax help. Y&R’s campaign to signal the company’s change in attitude was well received and McDougall said the company was “very happy with” the work.
Agency sources said the arrival of a new chief marketing officer last May made a review inevitable. David Byers joined the company from FCB Worldwide, San Francisco, in May, one of a series of management changes at Block that included a new chief operating officer, chief financial officer and president of international operations.
McDougall said Byers did not instigate the review, but combined with the other changes at Block and the departure of key Y&R account people, a review was deemed timely.
Y&R group account director on Block, David Skinner, left the shop last month to join an Internet venture and John Matejczyk, Y&R’s chief creative on the account, starts later this month at Goodby, Silverstein and Partners, San Francisco.
Agency president Howard Breen pointed to other Y&R staffers, including agency managing director Kary McIlwain, still “firmly entrenched in the business,” in a statement refuting the suggestion that Y&R’s staffing changes affected performance on the account.
After selecting a search consultant this week, H&R Block plans to conclude its review in June, McDougall said. Y&R has not yet decided if it will participate, Breen said. K