Earlier this week, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences handed out their 64th Primetime Emmy Awards. Showtime’s political drama “Homeland” was the big winner – stars Damian Lewis and Clare Danes won Best Actor and Best Actress, and the series itself won Best Drama. AMC’s period drama “Mad Men” was the big loser, failing to win the Best Drama award after four previous victories. And Mad Men’s brooding star Jon Hamm lost again for Best Actor, for the fifth year in a row.

Hamm’s character, Don Draper, is an advertising genius who creates campaigns for clients as diverse as Lucky Strike cigarettes, Mohawk Airlines, Menkens Department Store, and Utz potato chips. Don uses all sorts of psychological triggers to promote his clients’ products. But one trigger he he hasn’t used – at least, not yet – is everyone’s dislike of paying taxes. So, as Hamm leaves the Emmys empty-handed again, we had to ask: which real-world advertisers have used taxes to promote their products?

     “You must pay taxes. But there’s no law that says you’ve gotta leave a tip.”
                                                                            Morgan Stanley

     “You’d be surprised at the frivolous things people spend their money on. Taxes, for example.”
                                Nuveen Investments (tax-free bond funds 

     “Cheerios can lower cholesterol 4% in 6 weeks. To appreciate that number, give the IRS an extra 4%.”
                                                                                General Mills

     “There is an inherent hypocrisy in increasing taxes on consumers to discourage smoking, while simultaneously relying on that revenue to fund the increasing cost of children’s healthcare.”
                                                                         Lorillard Tobacco

     “The Higher the Tax Bracket, the Better the View.”
                                                     Florida Real Estate Developer

     “Nowhere on any tax form does it say you can’t be crafty.”
                                                                     Nuveen Investments

It’s certainly no surprise seeing financial firms like Morgan Stanley and Nuveen Investments in this list. But cigarette makers and luxury homebuilders are a bit of a surprise. And if the makers of Cheerios can advertise “against” taxes, well, anyone can!

At our firm, we’ve known all along what these advertisers have discovered, too: you don’t want to pay any more tax than you have to. That’s why we focus on planning to pay less tax, legally. That’s the kind of “can’t miss” campaign that ought to finally win Don Draper an Emmy!

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