IPA Effectiveness Awards 2010: Best Short-Term Effect - Self Assessment

Title: Change without chaos

Client: HMRC/COI

Entrants: MCBD, PHD Media, Elvis

Authors: Andy Nairn, Oliver Waterstone, MCBD

Contributing author: Toby Nettle, PHD

Credited companies - Creative agency: MCBD; digital agency: i-level; direct marketing agency: Elvis; integrated agency: 23red; media agency: PHD

Media used: Ambient, direct marketing, mobile/apps, newspapers, online display, outdoor/poster, PR, radio, search, TV


A new campaign with presenter Moira Stuart ensured a smooth transition of new information to the public, resulting in a record 69 per cent of tax returns received online, and a ROMI of approximately £2:1.


For many years, HMRC had run a successful campaign, encouraging people to do their Self Assessment tax returns on time and online. Then the deadlines changed, for administrative reasons, meaning the public had to be re-educated. To avoid a chaotic transition, a new campaign was built on the strengths of the previous one, sharing the same supportive strategy, presenter format and "Tax doesn't have to be taxing" line. A new presenter, Moira Stuart, was deployed to ensure the new information was presented in a clear and reassuring manner. With 93 per cent of paper filers meeting the October deadline, and a record 69 per cent of tax returns received online, HMRC gained the desired efficiencies, and generated a ROMI of approximately £2:1. More surprisingly, taxpayers, accountants and the media hailed the changes in positive terms.


Faced with the huge task of getting people to pay their taxes on time, this was an incredibly persuasive case, with extraordinary effect in a short space of time. Lord Burns, chairman, Channel 4 and Santander UK; chairman of judges.