Liberty Tax Service has taken a cue from the Subway sandwich shop chain and hired a “Jared-like” customer as the official spokesman for its eSmartTax.com online tax prep service.

Daryl Johnson of Richmond, Va., was selected and hired last fall in part because of his name. He is one of the 2,715 people across the United States named Daryl Johnson.

Unlike a celebrity spokesman, he is supposed to represent the millions of everyday tax filers who “work hard, play hard and want to receive the biggest, fastest refund they deserve come tax season,” according to the company.

Known as "Deagle" to his friends, Johnson is a 28-year-old, golf-playing, lawn care company owner who roots for the University of Virginia and Pittsburgh Steelers. He likes traveling and spending time with friends, and is described as having a big heart and an infectious enthusiasm for life.

Johnson is appearing in radio, television and Web ads for Liberty’s eSmart Tax service. Motorists traveling on I-95 in Richmond can see a digital billboard that displays his Twitter postings in real time.


On his Twitter page, he and his corporate sponsors give away a $100 Visa gift card each day to his followers in a daily drawing. Johnson’s Twitter followers “tweet” him telling him how they are planning to spend their tax refunds and they are automatically entered to win the daily prize.He sometimes tweets to the winners, including one message in which he mentioned that he is single and wants all the ladies to direct-message him.


Johnson is also featured in a series of humorous YouTube videos. In one video, he spends his entire refund at a nightclub, surrounded by a group of young women.

“It’s been a dream really,” he said of his new-found fame. “You file your taxes like the next guy and then you get a call to say you can be the spokesperson for a national tax filing service. I mean, I’m just a regular guy that owns a lawn care business. I’m not an actor or a model by any means, but now I’m on a billboard and I’m in radio, television and online ads. It's surreal. Awesome, but surreal.”

Johnson has been gaining more recognition among friends and strangers alike. He gets recognized and greeted when he goes into the store. He has also been making appearances on the front-page of the Richmond Times Dispatch and on local TV news shows.


"A couple of Daryl's friends have teased him about it," said David Saunders, president of Madison+Main, the agency that developed the ad campaign. "He's like Jared, but he’s not overweight."

The billboard went up on Jan. 1, and the videos have been on YouTube for about 10 days. Liberty is planning to roll out more videos later this tax season and is aiming to take away some of the market share from other online tax services. The market is currently dominated by Intuit's TurboTax, which holds about 70 percent of the market share, according to Saunders.


Johnson can be found on Twitter at @TheDarylJohnson, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/iamajohnson, and on YouTube at www.youtube.com/esmarttax.

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