Hopefully tax season won’t send you running to the pawnshop. Then again, that tactic worked well for Intuit’s TurboTax software.
The pawnshop in question was Las Vegas’s World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, the centerpiece of cable-TV network History’s top-rated reality series Pawn Stars. A&E Networks, the parent company of History, integrated TurboTax into its Pawn Stars Facebook game, in which more than 1 million fans build and run their own virtual pawnshops.
The game introduced TurboTax-branded premium clerk characters for gamers to “hire” for free, unlike the other clerk characters that had to be paid for with in-game currency. Players could earn that all-important in-game currency by viewing online a TurboTax TV spot featuring the stars of Pawn Stars and by filing their taxes online with the software. A TurboTax-sponsored Pawn Stars sweepstakes, with daily cash prizes (and giveaways of bobblehead dolls of the series’ personalities) as well as a grand prize of a trip to Las Vegas to visit World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, was tied in to the game as well. A&E Networks promoted the partnership via its websites and social media; gamers commented about the game (and boasted about their winnings whenever possible) on Facebook.
The campaign, which ran throughout tax season, from January to April 15, led to 700,000 online views of the TV spots, and the sweepstakes drew more than 400,000 entries from 78,000 unique participants. What’s more, according to A&E Networks, “incentivized in-game currency drove an increase in online conversions for TurboTax.”