Draftfcb’s Census Campaign is Getting Zero-to-no-Love

By Matt Van Hoven 

After a gritty, Jewish-joke-laced diatribe from Bob Garfield, a hearty lashing from Adfreak and a subsequent follow-up post from AdScam’s George Parker, we’re pretty sure the staff at Draftfcb who worked on the 2010 US Census campaign are angry and hurt.

They’re probably not happy that the Census work is perceived as appealing only to the small group of white folks who live on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, aka the Garfield contingency, aka white Jews who wear Birkenstocks, as Garfield put it. The Christopher Guest directed campaign drew remarks of the following bent:


David Griner: “For a once-a-decade project involving every living American, that’s a pretty crummy return on investment. The video seems to be hampered by the same problem that plagues all campaigns meant to ‘go viral’—i.e., it’s simply not that funny.”

Garfield: “What a weird choice to build the ongoing awareness campaign around a troupe of well-heeled, middle-aged white people who are famous mainly to well-heeled middle-aged white people. Hmm.”

What both Griner and Garfield fail to mention (though they undoubtedly thought of it) is Draft was tasked with maybe the hardest job in American advertising &#151 convincing 300 million people to do something. Has any campaign ever been successful of anything that bordered so near to impossibility? This isn’t a defense of the campaign and it certainly doesn’t mean it’s “good” &#151 but it’s worth noting the challenge Draftfcb faced. Herculean by any standard, and probably taller than Everest as mountains go. Their moms are surely proud that they tried.

What am I saying &#151 people who think the Census will somehow hurt them aren’t going to fill it out because they have bigger concerns than helping the government, ie caring for their families. From the outset, this campaign was an exercise in futility.

More:Draft FCB Will Mount Anyone Who Doesn’t Fill out the Census