Learn About the 2020 Census Media Campaign

Sample images from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Brand Guidelines, issued March 4, 2019.

Media outlets large and small, mainstream and community-based, targeting audiences in English or in one of a dozen other languages, have only a few weeks to gear up to send RFPs to participate in the paid media campaign for the 2020 U.S. Census Bureau.

The bureau has designated VMLY&R (formerly Y&R) as its primary ad agency of record, and another handful of ad agencies are working as part of  “Team Y&R” to place ads in media outlets in 13 languages: English, Spanish, Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese), Vietnamese, Korean, Russian, Arabic, Tagalog, Polish, French, Haitian Creole, Portuguese and Japanese.

Team Y&R won’t accept RFPs after May 17, 2019. Outlets of “any size” may submit RFPs, said Zakera Ahmed, supervisory partnership specialist at the Census Bureau’s regional NYC office. “We want to make sure to reach out to the grassroots [outlets], ethnic media, and especially those that serve underserved communities.”

The media campaign’s structure and objectives will be unveiled at a 2020 Census Media Vendor Day on April 3 in New York at an unspecified location in the vicinity of Lincoln Center/Columbus Circle. There will be both a morning session and an afternoon session. The event will be live-streamed, and can be viewed later after April 10. Media vendors of all sizes can submit questions about the RFP process from April 3 to April 12. A similar media vendor day is scheduled to be held in Puerto Rico on April 5.

The New York City event is geared toward media companies in the Census Bureau’s Northeast region, which includes eight states – New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine. A spokesperson for Team Y&R said that there are no other similar events scheduled. The Census Bureau unveiled its communications campaign earlier this month.

Media buys will be directed toward six basic media platforms: television (traditional, online, steaming), radio (traditional, online, streaming), out of home (transportation, billboards, grocery stores), print magazine, print newspaper and digital direct/content (display, video, influencers, gaming).

Media-buying partners in Team Y&R including Carol H. Williams Advertising for Black/African American/Sub Saharan African/Caribbean audiences; Culture ONE World for Hispanic/Spanish languages and Brazilian/Portuguese language audiences and TDW+Co for Asian American audiences.

More details about the paid media campaign and its phases, including Media Vendor Day, are available on this fact sheet. A Census Bureau summary is available here.

Click here to register for the 2020 Census Media Vendor Day in NYC. Email to learn more about the Puerto Rico media vendor event.

Finally, the Census Bureau is holding an April 1 press call “to mark the one year out milestone from the 2020 Census.” Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham and other census officials will speak, as will the presidents of The Annie E. Casey Foundation and the American Library Association, and the governor of the Chickasaw Nation.

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