Why the Industry Needs You to Fill Out the Census

And Why Agencies Should Rally Around It

By Published on .

Bill Imada
Bill Imada
By now you should have received multiple pieces of snail mail indicating that it's time to complete that 2010 Census form. If you haven't, give the local census office a call, because it's now time to get that form completed and turned in. And if it isn't done soon, you'll be doing our entire industry a disservice.

The advertising industry needs to rally around the 2010 Census even more than it is doing now. And, even if you aren't a part of the DraftFCB advertising and media team, having a full and accurate count of every living and breathing person in this country is essential in every aspect of our work.

We all know that great advertising and marketing is fueled heavily on the availability of credible market research data. The census is the most important and most reliable source of research information that exists in the U.S. Hence, we can't sit on the sidelines hoping that every person with a pulse completes his or her census document in a timely manner.

Even well-educated folks need a reminder on getting that 10-question form completed and popped into the mail. College students are among the biggest procrastinators. Many students think they are covered by their parents and don't complete the form. Others are just too busy to be bothered by even the simplest of tasks. So take a walk around your offices and get those interns off of Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, and have them complete their forms. Now would be a good time to get that reminder out.

And let me give a shout-out to the larger cities such as L.A. and New York. You're lagging the rest of the larger metro areas in the number of completed census forms. What's up with that?

Finally, for the communities of color and for those ad agencies that depend on robust demographic numbers. We need to have a strong count to help us sustain and drive our messages home that the U.S. truly is the most diverse country in the world. And it is getting more and more diverse each minute. What's another 10 minutes out of our busy lives to complete a simple form?

With all that has happened since the 2000 Census, we've got our work cut out for us. The forms need to be accurately and legibly completed. Individuals and families living in the U.S. -- whether they are documented or not, citizens or not -- must all complete their census forms. For those who are afraid that their information won't be kept confidential, they needn't be frightened. The federal government has strict laws in place for anyone, including all census employees, who divulge personal information to anyone, including other governmental agencies. This includes prison time, stiff fines or both.

And if you can't read English, there are 59 foreign-language guides available to help you navigate and complete the form. Census centers are also available to help individuals who may find it difficult to get through the questions. And community groups are also ready to help in cities and towns throughout the country.

There is $400 billion dollars of federal money per annum at stake for each and every community. But for the ad industry (and all of the vendors and suppliers who support our work), a dismal level of participation could be devastating. Ad and marketing dollars, talent, online strategies, research budgets, media planning and placement, and more are often tied to census numbers.

Fill out that census form and do it now. It really is in our hands.

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