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Special Project

Special Project
From the 15th Annual Shorty Awards

Carmichael Lynch and H&R Block: A Fair Shot

Finalist in Integrated Campaign, Social Activism, Vertical Video

Silver Honor in Financial Services

Entered in Sports, TikTok


On July 1, 2021, the new NCAA Name, Image, Likeness (NIL) rule change went into effect, turning college athletes everywhere into potential small business owners. It quickly became clear these new revenue streams would lead to new and complicated taxes. Brands made their moves as college football season kicked into gear and it became clear that women college athletes were not getting the same opportunities. Male student athletes had received 67.3 percent of the total compensation in collegiate sports as of December 2021 (via Opendorse). Female college athletes? Only 32.7 percent. 


Despite their inspiring talent, female college athletes continued to be footnotes in the grand story of the game. Carmichael Lynch saw an opportunity and an obligation to help level the playing field, and simultaneously re-position H&R Block – a 65-year-old tax preparation service company – as a relevant and inclusive resource for a rising generation of new tax filers: Gen Z. So, we created our “A Fair Shot” campaign. H&R Block committed $1 million in sponsorships, tax services and support to female college athletes, giving each a fair shot at the money they deserve and a platform to speak for equity for women in collegiate sports.


We launched “A Fair Shot” on March 1, 2022, announcing sponsorships with basketball stars Caitlin Clark and Zia Cooke — leaders on and off the court. Our full female roster was revealed over the following weeks, spanning a variety of sports, universities and geographic locations.

Strategy and Execution

With “A Fair Shot,” we knew we could call attention to the imbalance of NIL sponsorship deals, amplifying women athletes’ voices and giving them more visibility and right-sized tax help to level the playing field. Three key moments – MarchMadness, Women’s History Month and the 50th anniversary of Title IX – converged at tax season, which gave us the perfect opportunity to launch this campaign at a deliberate and powerful moment.


We developed a 360-degree campaign planning for content that could be utilized and amplified across multiple channels, creating a cohesive, authentic experience no matter someone’s way into the campaign.


We launched through earned media relations, landing a number of stories in top lifestyle, sports, pop culture and business media outlets where H&R Block had never been covered, specifically reaching our younger audience.

Then we brought attention to the larger issues of inequity by asking a handful of basketball-loving kids about their favorite women players in a spot called “Name One Player.” Guess what? They couldn’t name a single woman player. And the 15-second video capturing their cute yet starkly honest responses ran on Twitter via Twitter Amplify throughout the women’s college basketball tournament.


The conversation also extended to H&R Block’s owned channels with bite-sized NIL facts delivered via social, tax tips distributed via H&R Block’s Tax Information Center and “A Fair Shot” athlete influencer partners posting content to their own pages and feeds.


“A Fair Shot” culminated in early April as college basketball championship weekend became the topic of conversation. H&R Block invited people to “Imagine a World” in which women could get everything they deserve, activating a TikTok HashtagChallenge (#AFairShotwithBlock) featuring South Carolina Gamecock star Zia Cooke. The Hashtag Challenge amplified the voices of our women athlete partners and prompted TikTokers to join in.

Our social and PR teams banded together to wrangle 19 women athletes across the country, the majority of them with different agents and some with no agents at all, this having been their first NIL deal. We worked around 19 in- and off-season schedules, including both of our marquee athletes heading into the NCAA March Madness tournament at the same time our campaign was launching. This team executed over 75 pieces of content with these athletes through a series of bespoke briefs that outlined self-filming best practices and social platform tips and communicated back-and-forth through countless phone calls, texts and emails to relay legal and client feedback, fix in-app bugs and work through NCAA content parameters that were unique to each university or college.


The program exceeded all objectives, positioning H&R Block to Gen Z as a relevant, inclusive company:


1)  Modernize the H&R Block brand and improve perceptions among college students and their parents. 

·       Net trust for the brand increased 11 points with Gen Z[1] and favorability jumped 23 percentage points with college students[2] who saw the campaign.  

·       Sixty-five percent said H&R Block would be their first choice after seeing the campaign. [2]

·       A Fair Shot drove a 5.5% lift in social conversation during the campaign. [3]


2)  Broaden H&R Block’s reach beyond financial media into mainstream culture on social media.

·       #AFairShotwithBlock challenge racked up 10.1 billion views during the campaign;11.6 billion views to date.

·       #AFairShotwithBlock outperformed H&R Block’s hashtag challenge benchmark by 250 million.[NA(C2]

·       TikTok users created 1.9M videos with #AFairShotwithBlock.

·       Twitter Amplify “Name One Player” video had 11.9M pre-roll views during the campaign

3)  Advance gender equity in college sports by providing a platform for female athletes.

·       Closing out the 2022 Final Four tournament, OpenDorse ranked Zia Cooke one of the top four highest paid athletes, inclusive of male and female athletes.

·       Heading into fall 2022, H&R Block’s Caitlin Clark, Sedona Prince, Zia Cooke were ranked among ESPN’s top 25 highest paid college basketball players — male or female 

[1] Morning Consult - daily online polling to track change during campaign. 

[2] “A Fair Shot Campaign impact” research, Kantar, May 26, 2022.

[3]  “A Fair Shot” social listening research, NetBase, Feb-May, 2022.


Video for Carmichael Lynch and H&R Block: A Fair Shot

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Carmichael Lynch, H&R Block


Entry Credits