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CMBP News Release

For Immediate Release: October 1, 1999


WASHINGTON In a report to Congress issued today, the U.S. Census Monitoring Board "unanimously" endorses the Census Bureauās $167 million national advertising campaign set to begin in November.

According to the seven Presidentially and Congressionally-appointed Members of the Monitoring Board, the Bureauās ad campaign, developed by Young & Rubicam (Y&R), a major commercial advertising agency in New York, is "well researched, well designed and is likely to achieve its objectives."

"It is clear that Y&R has put together a very diverse and talented creative team, and we are confident that the Bureau is getting full value for its advertising dollars," the Board Members said, adding that they "enthusiastically endorse the Bureauās advertising program."

The Monitoring Boardās report describes in detail how the Bureauās ad campaign was researched, developed, produced and budgeted. This is the first time the Census Bureau has ever launched a paid advertising campaign to promote the decennial population count. Prior censuses have relied on donated public service ads that typically ran in off-peak hours.

For Census 2000, the Bureau decided to incorporate a major, primetime ad campaign in order to address the decline of mail response rates that plagued recent censuses. The theme of the campaign is "This Is Your Future, Donāt Leave It Blank," which was developed by the Bureau and Y&R after conducting more than 1,700 focus group interviews and other research. Many of the ads focus on the benefits that communities receive from the Federal government if their census counts are complete.

The first phase of the campaign runs from November 1999 until January 2000 and is designed to raise public awareness of Census 2000. The second phase runs through April 2000 and is designed to motivate people to fill out and mail back their census forms after Census Day, which is April 1. The third and final phase runs through July 2000 and is geared toward creating a positive environment for census enumerators who must knock on the doors of those homes that do not mail back their questionnaires.

The major component of the campaign is called "Diverse America," which is designed to reach 99 percent of the English speaking population in the United States. Ads were also developed in 17 other languages designed to reach non-English speaking households. Finally, the campaign includes targeted ads for the African American, Hispanic, Asian American and American Indian communities.

The Bureauās media buy includes network and local television (broadcast and cable), radio, print and outdoor venues. Indeed, starting in November, anyone who watches TV, listens to radio, reads newspapers or looks at billboards will be hard-pressed to miss the Census Bureauās ads. For several months, the Bureau will be one of the top advertisers in the entire country. The report notes, however, that paid ads will not eliminate the differential undercount of minorities and children, and indeed that the Y&R campaign is not designed to do so. Rather, it is focused on producing a successful mailback response rate. As Dr. Kenneth Prewitt, Director of the Bureau, testified before the Monitoring Board, "If we can reverse the decline of the response rate [via paid advertising], and indeed increase the mailback response rate, we will then have released the resources of the Census Bureau to go after the differential undercount."

The other advertising firms working with Y&R on the census campaign are the Bravo Group, Kang and Lee, G&G and Chisholm-Mingo.

Todayās Monitoring Board report was signed by Congressional Co-chair J. Kenneth Blackwell, Presidential Co-Chair Gilbert F. Casellas, Congressional Members David W. Murray, A. Mark Neuman and Joe D. Whitley, and Presidential Members Everett M. Ehrlich and Lorraine A. Green. (One Presidential slot is vacant.) The Census Monitoring Board was established by Congress and the Administration in 1997 to monitor all aspects of Census 2000 and to report to Congress at least once every six months.

Estela Mendoza, John R. Chambers, Presidential Members, 301-457-9900
Clark Reid, Congressional Members, 301-457-5080

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U.S. Census Monitoring Board
Presidential Members
4700 Silver Hill Road
Suite 1250 – 3
Suitland, MD 20746
Phone: (301) 457-9900
Fax: (301) 457-9901