My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Posts Tagged ‘Portrait of America’

NYTimes ad critic analyzes 2010 Census ad campaign

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Below is Stuart Elliot’s commentary as he answers readers’ questions about 2010 Census ads. Will the Census Bureau and Draftfcb threaten to take away the New York Times’ contract because Stuart was somewhat critical of the ad campaign?

Q: (Reader)

Just this morning, as I was reading NYTimes.com, I was struck by the short films that the U.S. Census is running to help persuade people to return their census forms.

Usually I ignore any and all advertisements online, but I found these fascinating because they present people who have reasons (good or less good) for mistrusting the government as encouraging citizens to participate. Who is responsible for the films?

A: (Stuart Elliott)

The films are part of a Web series, called Portrait of America, which features “real people expressing their reservations about participating in the Census and then overcoming them once they examine the form,” says Wally Petersen, a spokesman for DraftFCB in Chicago, part of the Interpublic Group of Companies.

The DraftFCB New York office created the Web series in its role as the lead agency for the Census campaign. “More than a dozen agencies produced more than 400 pieces of marketing communications” to encourage participating in the Census, he writes in an e-mail message, adding that the work is “targeting multiple audiences” in terms of races and ethnicities and appears in 28 languages.

Q: (Reader)

Something about those ubiquitous U.S. Census television ads has me scratching my head: the closing call to action. On screen invariably is the phrase “Census 2010” while the voice-over announcer invariably says “2010 Census.”

This strikes me as a weird inconsistency, not what one usually sees in a presumably well-considered, well-heeled campaign. In other words, “Huh?” What can you find out?

A: (Stuart Elliott)

Back we go, dear reader, to Mr. Petersen, who offers this reply in another e-mail message: “The formal name, ‘United States Census 2010,’ is a mouthful and sounds too bureaucratic. Lots of brands have nicknames. Look at Mickey D’s, for McDonald’s; B.K., for Burger King; and the Shack, for Radio Shack.”

“Saying ‘2010 Census’ simply functions as a short and memorable nickname,” Mr. Petersen concludes.

Congrats, The Census Bureau Wins This Year’s BS Awards!

Monday, July 20th, 2009

Today, the Census Bureau released the following press release about how it won an armload of the least prestigious awards ever received, which are called Tellys. Calls to multiple New York-based ad/marketing executives were met with words like “never heard of them” and “I don’t even think they’re real.” Jim Edwards, a former managing editor of AdWeek, said, “The Tellys are not a high-profile award by any means. They recognize one of the more humble niches of the advertising world, and that means that most people in the business have never heard of them.” Here’s the latest episode that relates to the Draftfcb PR farce from Suitland:

WASHINGTON, July 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A series of 2010 Census promotional videos have won several prestigious Telly Awards as well as a Videographer Award of Excellence — awards that honor the best in video production.

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20090226/CENSUSLOGO)

The videos were produced by the Public Information Office at the U.S. Census Bureau as part of a collaborative effort between headquarters, regional and contracting staff. They were submitted for consideration by contractors Therese Allen and Corey Petree.

The four- to seven-minute videos, titled “A New Portrait of America,” were produced to reach different segments of the population including the general, African-American, Asian, Hispanic, Native American/Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islanders, and Puerto Rican audiences.

In the nonbroadcast productions category, the videos received silver Tellys for use of music and editing, and a bronze Telly was awarded for government relations. In the Internet/online video category, a silver Telly was awarded for music and a bronze Telly was awarded for editing.

The videos also received the 2009 Videographer Award of Excellence in the government/federal and creativity/video/original music categories.

The “New Portrait of America” videos include diverse images from throughout the country as well as interviews with community leaders. They are used at activities and events to promote the 2010 Census and encourage everyone’s participation in next year’s national count.

The “New Portrait of America” videos may be viewed at the following link: http://2010.census.gov/2010census/multimedia/videos/013879.html.

The real humor in this is that after looking into the “Telly Awards,” it  looks like there are hundreds upon hundreds thousands upon thousands of winners in each category. It seems like the creators of the Telly Awards just want an outlet for ad agencies to impress their clients by paying entry fees to become recipients of this everyone’s-a-winner competition.