Ad campaign for Census to cost $135 million

Posted on February 4, 2010

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To gear up for the 2010 Census, the Census Bureau, which you’ll remember is now under White House control, will spend $135 million on an ad campaign in 28 languages over the next four months. Part of that campaign is a commercial purchased for $2.5 million to air during the Super Bowl.

I understand the need to promote the Census to ensure the most accurate head count possible. But … $135 million worth of advertising? Seriously, Census Bureau? Good thing that spending freeze isn’t taking place until next year, eh? There are undoubtedly far more efficient ways to get out the message to fill out your 10-question Census form than to approve a nine-figure advertising budget and blow big bucks on a Super Bowl ad that will run only a few times and have a limited impact.

And, as Ed Morrissey notes, not even Pepsi thinks a Super Bowl ad buy is worth it this year, noting that the ads are too expensive and will go with more cost-effective methods. Yet our government is perfectly willing to shell out big bucks to have a few seconds of coverage during the world’s biggest sports event.

I guess you could argue that $135 million is chump change compared to the rest of the budget. But it’s hard to argue that the figure is way too much simply to urge folks to fill out a government form. And it’s emblematic of a governmental approach that sees the solution to any problem is not to act in a lean and targeted fashion, but to simply throw more and more money at a problem in a shotgun approach in the hopes that something will stick.

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Posted in: News, Politics