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The 2000 Census: Counting Under Adversity
To supplement field operations and special programs to improve population coverage and cooperation with the census, the Census Bureau engaged in large-scale advertising and outreach efforts for 2000. For the first time, the Census Bureau budget included funds ($167 million) for a paid advertising campaign (recommended by National Research Council, 1978). In previous censuses, the Advertising Council arranged for advertising firms to develop ads and air them on a pro bono, public service basis (Anderson, 2000).
The 2000 advertising campaign was extensive, involving a major contractor, Young and Rubicam, which contracted with four other agencies to prepare ads targeted to particular population groups and communities. The advertising ran from November 1, 1999, to June 5, 2000, and included a phase to alert people to the importance of the upcoming census, a phase to encourage filling out the form, and a phase to encourage people who had not returned a form to cooperate with the follow-up enumerator. Ads were placed on television (including one during the 2000 Super Bowl), radio, newspapers, and other media, using multiple languages. Based on market research, the ads stressed the benefits to people and their communities from the census, such as better targeting of government funds to needy areas for schools, day care, and other services.
In addition to the ad campaign, the Census Bureau hired partnership and outreach specialists in local census offices, who worked with community and public interest groups to develop special initiatives to encourage participation in the census. The Bureau signed partnership agreements with over 100,000 organizations, including federal agencies, state and local governments, business firms, nonprofit groups, and others. The Bureau did not fund these groups, but it provided materials and staff time to help them encourage a complete count. A special program was developed to put materials on the census in local schools to inform school children about the benefits of the census and motivate them to encourage their adult relatives to participate.
The Census Bureau director and other staff made numerous public appearances throughout the census period to stress the importance of a complete count and respond to questions and concerns. The director also put into place a program to use the Internet to