Census adds muscle to media buys as 2000 count nears

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Less than three months before the 2000 census begins, the Census Bureau is starting to pump up the media weight for the first paid ad campaign in its history.

Ads featuring variations of the theme "Census 2000: This is your future. Don't leave it blank," have started to run on daytime TV nationally with additional support in local markets. The spots are part of the initial educational effort, aimed most strongly at groups that traditionally don't file census forms.

The bureau turns up the temperature the week of Feb. 21, when the full brunt of a motivational campaign aimed more broadly at the entire country's population hits.

Ads breaking then as part of the $103 million effort from Y&R Advertising, New York and partner agencies, play up the census' importance by showcasing examples of local programs whose availability is dictated by census data.

In one spot set to break next month, an overcrowded school that converted a closet into a classroom is presented as an example of what can happen when census information proves inaccurate. Another portrays a lack of emergency services.


"We tried to figure out how to relate the census to peoples' lives and decisions used in public funding," said Terry Dukes, exec VP-account managing director.

The bureau will spend 60% of its media budget to target people whose first language isn't English, with ads in 17 languages.

Besides Y&R, ads have been produced by Bravo Group, New York (Hispanic); Kang & Lee, New York (Asian); G&G Advertising, Albuqerque, N.M. (Native American); and the Chisholm-Mingo Group, New York (African-American).

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