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Zombie TurboTax

January 6, 2014

AdAge: “TurboTax Invites You to Celebrate Your Amazing Year by… Doing Your Taxes?” includes the video of a new advertisement for Intuit’s TurboTax from Wieden & Kennedy and directed by Lance Acord of Park Pictures.

According to AdAge, the spot “debuted on New Year’s Day during the Rose Bowl broadcast.” I saw the ad during yesterday’s Packers-Niners game – so this ad targets football watchers. The ad tries to humanize “the universally-hated ritual of doing your taxes, reframing them as a way to look back on a year” and mentions zombies;

You’re the one who made another human being. Who hasn’t slept in months and who’s walking around like a zombie, like a big happy zombie.

The making of another human being refers to having a baby (see zombie parentsdads) but it also sounds like making a Frankenstein-monster. Then the ad continues with a statistical argument about finding one true love and how spies with facial recognition have those odds, and then onto a business trip and getting drunk with coworkers.

It’s part of a brand campaign slogan: “It’s Amazing What You’re Capable Of.” There is irony in selling computer software that claims to simplify the tax process, but if we were actually so super capable couldn’t we do our taxes just by reading the tax code and downloading government forms? No of course not. We are zombies. We educate people to be zombies. We build classes of certified professionals who are licensed by government monopoly to sell services. But TurboTax is not legal advice. It’s a calculator. It’s a robot.

Were those drinks business expenses? What about the hotel room? And putting new sheets on the bed? Is that a metaphor for laundry day? As in laundering money? What about the image near the end of the ad of a man face-down in a swimming pool? He looks “happy” but underwater-much? Maybe these people might benefit from some actual legal advice from a qualified tax attorney. But then again, that’s a lot more expensive than TurboTax.

Also, the ad says despite the Chinese zodiac, it wasn’t the year of the snake (see also invasive species) but rather the year of you. But wasn’t that 2006 (see Time Magazine POY)?

And if the government has all this fancy spy technology, why do I need to file a voluntary return, don’t they already have all of my digital banking records? Don’t they already know if got married, had a baby or bought a house? Are those even really the goals we should aspire to? Can’t we be “happy” without becoming zombies?

As noted by comments on the AdAge page, the voiceover for the TurboTax ad sounds like actor John C. Reilly (recently the voiceover of Ralph in “Wreck-it-Ralph” where he must learn to be happy being himself, a video game villain). Maybe if we look in the mirror, it was the year of the snake after all.

This coming year is the year of the horse. My new series of books (including the Zombie book) is called “Law of the Horse” (named after the Lessig-Easterwood cyberlaw debates, a happy coincidence!) – so maybe if I actually sell some of these then I will owe more taxes next year – in the meantime, it’s just a whole lot of expenses and deciding which are legit business expenses (as opposed to a hobby) is not something that TurboTax can do. In fact, I am not sure if anyone really knows how to properly tax Kickstarter money (they donated to a project that may have never come true – is it sales or gifted-patronage?) These are questions for a qualified tax professional, not a computer program.

See more ZombieLaw taxes, poorly organized under two separate tags (tax and taxes ) and also a sub-category — sorry about that, I’ll have to try to clean that up in the future. Actually a lot of tags on this blog are messy because of inconsistent pluralization – if any more experienced bloggers have suggestions on how to fix that, please let me know – maybe I could get a computer software to tag stuff for me? Taxes aren’t the only zombies of old decisions and while reviewing the past can be fun sometimes it’s also a lot of annoying work…


From → computers, money, taxes

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