4 Takeaways TurboTax Has Learned From Creating Years of Super Bowl Spots

Opinion: Last year’s 'RoboChild' saw tons of brand engagement

a robot with a small boy
TurboTax's 2019 Super Bowl spot featured a small robotic boy. TurboTax
Headshot of Mary-Ann Somers

Last year, TurboTax Live’s “RoboChild” got the tweets, but a masterful integration by our consumer group marketing team earned the consequential brand engagement. Instead of an expensive one-off buzz maker, our RoboChild Super Bowl ad was the moment to amplify a key message from the TurboTax brand campaign that started long before and ended long after the Big Game itself.

someone holding a football to a microphone with the text Voices of the Super Bowl
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In short, the TurboTax integrated campaign turned the Super Bowl’s 110 million eyeballs into more than 2 billion brand impressions with sustained buzz.

Maximizing a Super Bowl investment takes a lot of planning, collaboration, attention to detail and the balancing skills of an Olympic gymnast. The Super Bowl is not a campaign starting point or even a destination, but rather an accelerant to creative and programs already in market.

TurboTax has the added challenge of being an intensely seasonal business, and the Super Bowl falls right at the first peak of our season, just as W-2s are mailed. Our second peak falls in early April, so we have to sustain engagement and relevance much earlier and longer than the traditional three-and-a-half-month buying season.

But you still have to exploit the opportunity provided by the Super Bowl’s 110 million viewers without drowning out your broader campaign. That takes a highly calibrated effort that, for us, has grown more complex, yet more precise and more effective. We’re aggressive, we’re focused, and like the Super Bowl, we keep score. Still, we continue to learn from each season.

Here are a few of our key takeaways after seven years as a Super Bowl advertiser:

You can never start early enough 

Before the first snap of the game last year, we were already in the throes of planning for this year. There are so many moving parts to a fully integrated campaign. Consumer trends are so dynamic that unless you’ve got a solid foundational plan early on, you can’t take advantage of all the opportunities the zeitgeist might present or manage curveballs it might throw at you.

And know this: There are always curveballs.

We’re aggressive, we’re focused, and like the Super Bowl, we keep score. Still, we continue to learn from each season.

Use all the tools in your toolbox 

We’re a company obsessed with powering financial freedom, which, among other things, means helping our customers wring value from every penny they spend. We embrace that mission in our approach to our Super Bowl investment. From testing creative for optimal consumer resonance to tuning search words for game-time traffic to seeking emerging platforms that help expand the impact of the moment, you have to use everything in your toolbox to extract engagement and value out of the Super Bowl campaign. And it is worth the effort.

Honor the uniqueness of that moment in time

The Super Bowl presents an unmatched opportunity to create an extensible campaign. It is a cultural moment in the U.S., and it has a culture all its own. The Super Bowl drives massive tune-in across platforms, inspires gaming across platforms and streaming esports, and, of course, massive focus and conversation about the ads. We look to extend our campaign beyond the broadcast moment by being integrated into the streaming options, the gaming behavior and the ad conversations.

No weak links

To create a breakthrough integrated campaign and deliver an ROI that thrills your leadership, you need individual craft functions to be best-in-class. We wouldn’t realize nearly the traffic and engagement and be able to raise the bar higher each year if we didn’t have marketing craft capabilities that inspire awards within their disciplines, from creative to media, from search to social to mar tech to mobile. If the Super Bowl is our engine, our talent is the fuel.


Mary-Ann Somers is the senior vice president of Intuit’s Consumer Group.
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