The U.S. Census Bureau Picks Y&R as Its New Lead Creative Agency

By Patrick Coffee 

After a review that started almost one year ago, the U.S. Census Bureau has chosen Y&R as lead creative agency to promote the upcoming 2020 population count.

A source close to the matter told us that the calls went out to competing agencies this morning and that Y&R won the pitch. After waiting on the Census org’s phone line for nearly an hour (they have real customers to attend to), we eventually received this statement:

“Today, the U.S Census Bureau awarded an Integrated Communications Contract for the 2020 Census to Young & Rubicam (Y&R). To respect the integrity of the award, debrief and protest stages of the federal procurement process and the laws that govern it, we will not comment on the award until the protest period has ended.”

A second document confirmed that the contract is worth $415 million.

This is not Y&R’s first government client; last month, it finally opened an office in Memphis to service the U.S. Navy account after almost a year of court challenges from incumbent Campbell Ewald.

Y&R has not responded to an email regarding the win, and FCB declined to comment on the news. The U.S. Census picked the latter agency to promote its last such project in 2010; at the time, the business was worth an estimated $300 million according to Kantar Media.

Various sources tell us that the New York offices of Y&R, FCB, DDB, McCann and Droga5 pitched the business. The Census will be working with other agencies beyond Y&R for other portions of the account, but we don’t know who they might be because, again, no one responded to our queries all day.

At any rate, the 2020 project will be large. Last time, promotional materials were created in 14 different languages, and the RFP noted that the Census “fully intends to harness … emerging technologies and channels as an integral part of its communication program for the 2020 Census.”