I need not write any more words about the Super Bowl ad. It now has 333,000+ views on YouTube, but at the same time it has been panned time and time again, and perhaps caused 10% of the population to resent the Census Bureau, even if it caused 2% of the population to fill out their 2010 Census forms.
As you will see below, the genius ad agency DraftFCB (who also produced failed and unmemorable Taco Bell and Dockers commercials during the Super Bowl) didn’t even permit the embed codes for the “viral videos” to be shared until this error was pointed out by internet users. One word for these folks: Idiots.
The following words are from The Federal Eye blog by Ed O’Keefe:
Updated 3:53 p.m. ET
Media critics seem to agree: The U.S. Census Bureau should keep to counting people and stay out of the advertising business.
The agency spent $2.5 million on a 30-second ad that aired during the third quarter of Sunday night’s Super Bowl, a price tag also earned them two spots during the pregame show and two on-air mentions by CBS Sports anchor James Brown.
The ad is one of a five-part series that the agency hopes will spread virally out from a Facebook fan page and YouTube. (The agency prohibits bloggers and third party sites from copying and pasting embed code of the ads, blaming contractual restrictions — a decision that likely means the agency’s viral efforts will fail. UPDATE: The agency’s YouTube channel now provides the embed code. Was somebody listening?!)
Entertainment Weekly named the spot one of Sunday night’s five worst, stating, “How weird to hire all those funny character actors, then accidentally air an unfinished version of a commercial that left us all wondering what the frak we just watched!”
The ad also ranked poorly in USA Today’s annual Super Bowl ad viewer survey, ranking towards the bottom between a CareerBuilder.com ad and one for the new Wolfman movie. (But it did beat the controversial ad starring Tim Tebow.)
Advertisers are often willing to fork over millions of dollars for a Super Bowl spot in hopes of free day-after buzz. So perhaps most insulting of all, some ad critics completely ignored the Census spot. Slate’s Seth Stevenson didn’t mention it in his review of an “uninspiring slate” of commercial offerings, and The Post’s television critic Tom Shales also ignored the ad (Shales concluded that the David Letterman-Oprah Winfrey-Jay Leno “Late Show” promo was the night’s best — and The Eye agrees).
The conservative editorial board at the New Hampshire Union-Leader seized on the Census ad’s price tag, calling it a “Super blunder” and lamenting that the spot cost only 1.9 percent of the Census Bureau’s total advertising budget.
“There has been a great deal of buzz about the Census ads this week which is raising awareness at just the right time,” said Census Bureau spokesman Steven Jost.
“No single ad carries the whole burden of this massive outreach and education effort,” he said. “Our goal now is to raise awareness that the Census is coming in March. Then we will shift to more direct messaging that your Census form will be arriving by mail and inspiring folks to ‘mail it back.’”
Officials have also justified the costs by noting that any publicity about the 2010 Census — good or bad — should help save taxpayer money in the long run. A higher census response rate cuts the need for temporary workers to conduct expensive follow up interviews, the agency said.
“If 1% of folks watching #SB44 [Super Bowl 44] change mind and mail back #2010Census form, taxpayers save $25 million in follow up costs,” the bureau Tweeted on Sunday night.