As you probably know, the Constitution mandates a complete population count every 10 years, which helps redraw political boundaries and determine states’ representation in Congress and the distribution of more than $400 billion in federal funds to state and local governments every year. In March of this year, Americans will be receiving what is considered the shortest Census form in U.S. history and the 2010 Census will be advertised by what many are calling the government’s “unprecedented promotional blitz,”costing taxpayers $340 million.
The Census campaign includes $140 million on TV, radio, print and outdoor advertising and roughly $80 million spent on ads that will target racial and ethnic groups and non-English speakers in 28 languages. They will be accompanied by a road tour called “The 2010 Census Portrait of America Road Tour” — stopping and exhibiting at more than 800 events nationwide, of which “13 road tour vehicles will provide the public with an educational, engaging and interactive experience that brings the 2010 Census to life.” The Census Road Tour will be stopping at the Super Bowl in Miami this Sunday, February 7th.
Speaking of the Super Bowl and all of its advertising glory: Hold on to your football jerseys because this season you won’t see Pepsi, yet, Dr. Pepper will be making an appearance during the game ads. Also, it turns out that the “Man Crunch Ad” was rejected by CBS; however, you will be able to catch the “Tebow Family Ad” and plenty of beer and Doritos commercials. Just in case you can’t afford to go to the Super Bowl this weekend, it is nice to know that your taxpayer dollars will be there and we have our government to thank. Not only will the Census Road Tour be in attendance, but “Uncle Sam has purchased a 30-second, $2.5-million reminder,” so that you will stand up and be counted! Apparently, Christopher Guest has directed quite a few of these Census ads under a project called “Snapshot of America,” starring actor, activist Ed Begley Jr. and others. [It is not quite clear which ad will be airing during the Super Bowl – here is a preview of what I could find]
Due to concerns over ACORN’s shady reputation and accusations and convictions of voter-registration fraud, last September the Census Bureau severed its ties with ACORN, noting that they will not be involved with the 2010 head count. However, as many of us were focused on the health care debate and other issues of the day this past December, Jose Cruz, Senior Director of Civic Engagement for the National Association of the Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) enlisted Jesus to get the Census “word” out and designed a poster that included the over 2000-year-old biblical account when Mary (with child) and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem after Caesar Augustus called for “all the world to be counted,” so that they could be taxed.
While the government did not pay or play a role in creating the posters, this type of propaganda did cause quite a stir amongst the faithful. Still, Cruz defended his decision in using this tactic as a means to get “full Latino count,” and stated, “For people who fear government — especially those here illegally — the plea to fill out the Census has to come from someone they trust – there is no more trusted voice in our community than faith-based leaders.”
Our government is also taking Census education and advertising to our children. The Census Bureau and the US Department of Education have launched the “2010 Census in Schools” program. If you have children in school be prepared for a week of Census education, which is scheduled to occur anywhere between January and March. Since the Census Bureau partnered with Sesame Street to extend the 2010 Census message, The Count and Rosita have already been spotted on American school campuses and it’s possible we will find Big Bird, Elmo and the rest of the Sesame Street crew on our TV screen, marketing the 2010 Census. Maybe our government will employ Elmo to be a census taker, the Cookie Monster to hand out free refreshments, and The Count to add up all the taxpayer money our government is spending on the 2010 Census?
As it turns out, “the 10-year life-cycle costs of Census 2010″ are estimated at $14 billion, of which the $340 million allotted for paid advertising to “urge participation in Census 2010,” are in full force. Will you be counted?