CAMPAIGN: H&R Block Calculatron

Agency: Dashboard Communications
Project Role:
Lead Art Direction, Lead Copy Writing, Design & Managed Production.

Awards/Recognition:
Applied Arts Interactive Media Award 2008  Category: Weblog/Social Networking

Illustrator: Ramon Perez

In early 2008, working with Dashboard and H&R Block (as well as Facebook and fellow ad firm Due North) the H&R Block Calculatron and Social Life Simulator digital community focused campaign launched on facebook.com. Using facebooks viral aspects the application asked students and others to first use the tax calculator – known as the Calculatron – to get their refund estimate.

Their estimate would then be locked it in as a virtual bank account on facebook. This bank account led them into the bulk of the application – the Social Life Simulator. Here they could spend their virtual money on items, entertainment, and more. Everything from a tattoo to a make over to drinks with friends. Or, they could earn more virtual money by working, begging, gambling and other scenarios. In total the Social Life SImulator had 100 scenarios (50 spend / 50 earn) each with 3 choices – in order of cost level or risk level (in earn scenarios). This gave users 300 possible things to do. On top of that – we developed over 300 additional random outcomes to users actions.So, if you earned some money at the casino, there was a chance you could loose or earn additional money either instantly or a few days from now. This randomness built in with the ability to invite friends to many scenarios added a depth that has not been seen before in a facebook community application. Stats on users as well as dynamic displays on user’s profiles pages with in facebook helped introduce others to the Social Life Simulator.

The application dominated. With users spending over $180,000 and earning over $200,000 in the first 4 days of it’s launch. By the end of the first week the application had 1,053 users, with over 25% of them using the Social Life Simulator daily and earning over $400,000 – with the number one way to earn virtual money being the casino. As users sent out invitations to their friends and helped the application grow through out facebook’s global network of 60 million plus users.

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