A.C.E. Revision II
Decision -- Intercensal Estimates
Frequently Asked Questions
and Rules for Taking the Census
Census 2000 Advertising Campaign
The Census 2000 Advertising Campaign was the first-ever paid
campaign for a census. Charged with reaching all adults living
in the United States (including Puerto Rico and the island
areas), the advertising agencies had a challenge that was
virtually unprecedented in the advertising industry.
The Ad Agencies
Five expert advertising agencies made up the Census 2000 Ad
Team: Young & Rubicam, New York (Y&R) - the team's lead
agency; The Chisholm-Mingo Group - specializing in African
American and emerging audiences from Africa and the Caribbean;
The Bravo Group - with expertise in Hispanic audiences; Kang
& Lee - specializing in Asian and emerging audiences from
Russia, Poland, and Arabic-speaking countries; and g&g
advertising - experts in reaching American Indian and Alaska
Natives. While Y&R developed the overall strategy for the
campaign and created ads for the Diverse America portion
(everyone who consumes English-language media), the four partner
agencies researched and created ads and media plans for their
The Media Campaign
More than 250 TV, radio, print, outdoor, and Internet ads in
17 languages were created to reach 99 percent of all US
residents. The census message was heard or seen on average over
50 times. Over 130,000 announcements were carried by more than
3,000 media outlets. Over 71,000 radio spots ran. The Hispanic
newspaper buy was the largest single media buy for a
Spanish-language campaign. Value added opportunities negotiated
by Y&R and its partner agencies exceeded $10.8 million. The
number of TV spots for American Indians and Native Alaskans was
doubled due to skilled negotiations for free bonus spots by
Extensive research among many diverse audiences helped form
the campaign's core message: "This is your future. Don't
leave it blank." It was clear that the Census was
irrelevant or misunderstood by many. The ad agencies needed to
find a way to dispel the idea that the Census was nothing more
than the federal government's head count. The campaign had to
convince a skeptical public that there was something to be
gained by answering the Census, or something to be lost by not
The message strategy was to let people know how answering the
census could benefit themselves, their families, or their
communities. This benefits message worked for all audiences but
was more effective when adapted specifically for each audience.
For example, African Americans expressed a strong sense of
group identity which inspired The Chisholm-Mingo Group to modify
the tagline to: "This is our future. Don't' leave it blank."
Because American Indians and Alaska Natives hold their elders
and children in high esteem, their tagline was: "Generations
are counting on this. Don't leave it blank." All logos,
taglines, and other graphic elements were posted on the
Internet so that local governments and other census partners
could use them.
the first time in census history, the mail response rate
increased over the previous census, from 65 to 67 percent.
Census ad campaign was ranked the second most effective
campaign according to AdTrack, a USA TODAY consumer poll.
Census Bureau ranked 53rd in spending among all advertisers for
the first half of 2000.
Results of an independent evaluation of the partnership and
marketing program will be available in Fall 2001.