Y&R Tapped as Lead Agency for 2020 Census

WPP Shop Will Help Census Utilize 'Emerging Technologies' to Market Its Efforts

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The Washington, D.C. area headquarters of the U.S. Census Bureau.
The Washington, D.C. area headquarters of the U.S. Census Bureau. Credit: HSK Architects

WPP's Y&R has won the 2020 Census account after a review, according to people familair with the matter.

The U.S. Census Bureau in late January issued a final RFP, with a projected completion sometime in August. Representatives for the Census, according to people familiar with the process, reached out this morning to agencies involved to let them know that Y&R won. As many as five agencies were finalists.

More than likely, a host of other agencies will be involved, handling media and multicultural marketing, among other disciplines. According to one person familiar with the review, agencies presented partner agencies and subcontractors in the review, though it was not immediately known what agencies would be working in tandem with Y&R.

Representatives for Y&R and the Census Bureau did not immeidately respond to requests for comment.

The bureau, for the next census, is looking to address marketing differently than it did for the 2010 Census, given how dramatically the media landscape has changed since then.

According to the RFP from January: "The communications industry has changed dramatically since the conduct of the 2010 Census, principally due to changes and advances in technology, communications mechanisms, and consumer expectations. The Internet, wireless technologies, and mobile personal devices have opened new communications channels and media that have empowered consumers with increased connectivity to marketers. The Census Bureau fully intends to harness these emerging technologies and channels as part of the 2020 Census Integrated Communications Contract."

The RFP also said that "the total estimated value for the full lifecycle of this contract" is about $415 million. It wasn't clear what the fee would be for the lead agency, or other agencies involved.

One of the Census Bureau's biggest challenges for each census is getting people to respond -- especially those in hard-to-count populations. The RFP said that the winning agency will need to have, either from a subcontractor or itself, "expertise and experience in communicating with and marketing to historically undercounted populations. These populations include such groups as African Americans/Blacks, Asians, Hispanics, American Indians and Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders."

The RFP goes on to say that "racial and ethnic group is not the sole indicator of hard-to-count and non-respondent populations. They also tend to be characterized by renters, high unemployment, low education, low income, difficulty reading or writing in English, the young and mobile, the older population, and household crowding, among other factors."

For the 2010 Census, more than a dozen agencies were contracted to handle the work. Interpublic's FCB, then called DraftFCB, was the lead agency on the campaign, though other IPG shops were involved, including Asian-American shop IW Group and Jack Morton, an experiential agency. GlobalHue also played a role, creating work aimed at African-Americans.

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