Top Agencies Back Out of $300 Million Census Pitch

But Y&R, JWT, DraftFCB Are Likely to Participate in Bidding

By Published on .

WASHINGTON ( -- Several top agencies are dropping out of the bidding for the U.S. Census Bureau's $250 million to $300 million three-year advertising campaign to boost participation in the 2010 census.
The Census Bureau's account is for three years and 250 million to $300 million.
The Census Bureau's account is for three years and 250 million to $300 million.

While proposals aren't due until the end of the month, agencies need to list key account personnel by Feb. 13 to bid; a number of agencies that had expressed early interest in the business have chosen not to submit the required data.

Out of the bidding
Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann Erickson, Martin Agency and Mullen; Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide; Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett; and WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather and Grey Worldwide are among the agencies no longer chasing the account.

Top-tier agencies likely to participate include WPP's Y&R, which handled the account in 2000; its corporate sibling JWT, which is preparing a bid on behalf of all its U.S. offices; and Interpublic's DraftFCB and Campbell-Ewald.

Sy Coleman, a Crystal City, Va., agency that mostly handles contracts for the Department of Defense, is also bidding in concert with other smaller agencies.

The high-profile census account will receive heavy spending before the 2010 census, but the contract ends when the census begins, and unlike other government ad accounts, there is no possibility for extension (the next census won't be for another 10 years).

Y&R rebuilds census team
Y&R, which created the tagline "This is your future: Don't leave it blank" in support of the last census, has rebuilt much of its 2000 census team for its pitch.

The account requires creative in many languages, prompting lead bidders to put together teams that include Hispanic, African-American, Asian and Native American ad agencies. The Census Bureau has asked that 40% of its account be handled by small businesses, including women-owned and minority-owned businesses.

The 2010 census will be the first without a long-form questionnaire. The Census Bureau began paying for media with the 2000 census in what turned out to be a successful effort to overcome declining participation rates. The Census Bureau wants an integrated campaign aimed at getting Americans to send in their forms without the bureau having to send out enumerators.

The campaign is expected to include extensive internet and public-relations components.
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