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2020 Census Advertising Campaign Expands to Reach All Audiences

Release Number CB20-CN.13
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February 18, 2020 ­­– The U.S. Census Bureau today expanded its massive multimedia advertising campaign across the nation. The campaign is designed to reach over 99 percent of the nation’s 140 million households with messaging about the upcoming 2020 Census and the importance of responding. Invitations to respond will arrive March 12-20, 2020. Almost every person living in the United States will be reached an average of 40 times during the lifetime campaign, which will take place on television, radio, newspapers, online and at outdoor locations such as billboards and bus stops.

“We are very excited to see our 2020 Census awareness campaign rolled out across the country,” said Census Bureau Director Dr. Steven Dillingham. “We’ve done our research, taken time to listen to stakeholders and experts, and developed a communications and advertising campaign to truly reach everyone.”

While ads for reaching multicultural and hard-to-count populations have been running since mid-January, the newest ads are designed to reach everyone. The advertising launched in a variety of media including digital, print and radio on Feb. 17. Televised ads will be broadcast nationwide during highly rated television programming on all major cable and broadcast networks, including but not limited to:

  • ABC: Good Morning America, Mixed-ish, The Rookie and Jimmy Kimmel Live
  • CBS: 60 Minutes, Survivor, NCIS and The Young & The Restless
  • Fox: 9-1-1, Last Man Standing, WWE Smackdown Live and America’s Most Wanted
  • NBC: This is Us, America’s Got Talent, Nightly News and Saturday Night Live
  • The CW: Riverdale, The Flash, Supernatural and Dynasty
  • USA, TNT, ESPN, TBS, Lifetime, SyFy, TV Land, HGTV and other cable networks

The ads, which will show that responding to the census is easy, safe and important, are part of the over $500 million public education and outreach campaign that is designed to increase response to the census. Along with traditional advertising about the 2020 Census “Shape your future. START HERE” messaging, the digital advertising plan will be simultaneously launched, and will include banner/static ads, video ads, digital extensions of traditional outlets, and social media channels.

After extensive research and in keeping with how the media industry has changed, the Census Bureau dedicated approximately 30% of their media buy to digital, significantly more than the digital share for the 2010 Census, which was approximately 8%. The 2020 Census is the first census to allow every household to respond online, by phone or by mail.

 “We know that the internet is changing the way America communicates, and our advertising plan reflects that,” said Kendall Johnson, executive director of the 2020 Census communications contract at the Census Bureau. “Our ads will reach people online and allow them to respond with a few simple clicks, making it that much quicker and easier to be counted.”

In addition to English, ads will continue to run in 12 other languages: Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin/Cantonese), French, Haitian Creole, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese. Ads reaching multicultural and historically undercounted audiences began airing last month.

The Census Bureau and VMLY&R (Team Y&R) tested the national campaign in over 120 focus groups across the country with each target audience to ensure relatability, understanding, cultural relevance, and language interpretation. Examples of 2020 Census advertising can be seen here.

The Census Bureau has conducted a paid advertising and communications operation designed to encourage the public to self-respond to the census since 2000. The 2020 campaign is the largest ever, and is based on the most robust research program ever implemented for a decennial census communications program. Census research and testing indicates that when people self-respond, the data are more accurate and costs are lower because census takers do not have to visit those households.

The U.S. Constitution mandates a census of the population every 10 years. The 2020 Census will count everyone who lives in the United States as of April 1, 2020 (Census Day). Census statistics are used to determine the number of seats each state holds in the U.S. House of Representatives and informs how billions of dollars in federal funds will be allocated by state, local and federal lawmakers annually for the next 10 years. Stay tuned, beginning in mid-March, households will be able to respond online, by phone or by mail.

For more information, visit the Census Bureau’s 2020 Census website

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