H&R Block Moves to DDB

NEW YORK H&R Block has shifted creative duties on its ad account to DDB without a review, the Omnicom Group shop said today.

Major media spending on the brand totaled $105 million last year and nearly $130 million in the first four months of 2009, according to Nielsen. Those figures do not include online spending.

Interpublic Group’s Campbell Mithun in Minneapolis had handled the business since 2000. In addition to traditional advertising, DDB will handle digital efforts via its Tribal DDB subsidiary.

Media duties are not shifting and remain at Omnicom’s OMD.

Sources said that the shift came after several months of meetings between DDB and H&R Block, whose president and CEO, Russ Smyth, knew the agency from his 21 years at McDonald’s, a key global client of DDB. Smyth rose to president of McDonald’s European operations before exiting in 2005.

“Having worked with the agency before, I know we can expect a great partnership that will help grow our business and enhance our brand,” Smyth said in a statement. “DDB has a proven track record for generating strong creative that builds and maintains leadership brands.”

DDB North American president Dick Rogers, who worked with Smyth when he was at McDonald’s and contributed to the agency’s pursuit of H&R Block, said he was “thrilled” to get the opportunity to help reposition an “iconic American brand.”

DDB will pull creative ideas from its core U.S. offices in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle. Account management will be led out of New York.

Campbell Mithun landed the account in 2000 and successfully defended it in a 2006 review. DDB’s Chicago office was among the five finalists in that contest.

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