The Virginia Taxman Cometh Again

ATLANTA Barber Martin and The Hodges Partnership have paired for a campaign touting Virginia’s Tax Amnesty program, the agencies said.

The combination advertising and public relations campaign kicked off earlier this week with a flurry of news coverage and will run through the amnesty program’s Nov. 3 deadline.

While a press conference Tuesday generated plenty of unpaid buzz, the goal now, according to THP partner Josh Dare, is to extend the geographic reach of the campaign and to persuade procrastinating taxpayers to remit their checks.

Dare said one-third of Virginians taking advantage of the amnesty program will wait until November to pay their back taxes. “There’s a danger to that because there may be problems and if people haven’t worked them out by Nov. 3, they lose amnesty,” he said.

The program waives all penalties and half of the accrued interest on most back taxes paid during the amnesty period. Delinquent taxpayers who do not take advantage of the program will be assessed an additional 20 percent penalty on unpaid balances.

Dare said the public relations effort will be strongest at the beginning and end of the program. Advertising from Barber Martin, specifically 15- and 30-second television commercials, print ads and direct mail, will serve to keep awareness high through the eight-week campaign.

Rob Arnold, vice president of marketing at Barber Martin, said his agency would deliver a second wave of commercials throughout October with a stronger sense of urgency that will refresh the message.

The Richmond, Va., shop’s integrated campaign features Tax Letter Man, a live Gumby-like character dressed in an envelope, created by Barber Martin.

The print component will revolve around payment milestones and taxpayer-related facts such as the largest and oldest unpaid tax bills.