Census Bureau aims to reach every person in the US with $500m, 1,000-ad campaign

The US Census Bureau has launched a $500m public education and outreach campaign, which will feature more than 1,000 ads designed to reach 99% of all US households.

The initiative aims to communicate the importance of responding to the 2020 Census.

The Census Bureau conducted extensive research to create the ‘Shape your future. Start here.’ campaign to show that responding to the census is easy, safe and important, especially as this is the first census to go digital.

“Through advertising, public events, partnerships and digital and traditional media, we are embarking on a nationwide effort to let everyone in the country know about the upcoming 2020 Census and encourage them to respond online, by phone or by mail," explained Census Bureau director Steven Dillingham.

"We are extremely committed to reaching those people who are historically undercounted."

The Census Bureau, along with VMLY&R (Team Y&R), tackled challenges while putting together the campaign, from sorting through natural disasters in Puerto Rico to creating ads in 13 different languages to connect with multicultural populations.

Culture One World, which worked on the Hispanic/Latinx segment of the campaign, found concerns about confidentiality and data security were top of mind for respondents in these communities. Consequently, care was taken to address those issues and focus on the positive benefits of responding to the census.

Ads reaching multicultural and historically undercounted audiences have already begun airing, while ads for general audiences will begin running in mid-February.

Beginning in mid-March, households can respond to the census online, by phone or by mail. An anthem spot, ‘Everyone Counts’, notes the diversity of the country and the importance of being counted.

The communications campaign includes television and radio commercials; digital, social media and print advertising; and messaging on billboards and at bus stops.

The massive public education effort encourages participation among multicultural and hard-to-count populations with ads in English and 12 other languages: Arabic, Chinese, French, Haitian Creole, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese.

The 2020 Census paid media campaign will occur in three phases. The awareness and education phase is first, the motivation and participation phase second, starting in March, and the third reminder and non-response follow-up phase third starts in May.

The 2020 Census will officially begin January 21, in Toksook Bay, Alaska – a remote fishing village located on the Bering Sea. It aims to count every person who lives in the US by 1 April.

See some of the creative by clicking on the Creative Works box below.

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