Census Bureau Issues Draft RFP

BOSTON The U.S. Census Bureau has issued a draft proposal request for its Census 2010 marketing effort, soliciting input for possible changes and amendments before the final RFP is issued early next year.

The draft document, posted on the census.gov Web site, stipulates a contract worth $250-300 million that begins on Aug. 31, 2007 with three renewal options.

The goal, not surprisingly, is to produce paid-media and public relations initiatives ensuring the highest possible rate of reply. “As complex as it is, the 2010 Census count must be as complete and accurate as possible and conducted at a reasonable cost to the American taxpayer. An effective communications strategy is critical to its success,” according to the draft RFP.

“The Census Bureau estimated that two-thirds of the overall 2010 census costs will be spent enumerating people who do not reply by mail. It costs approximately $75 million to enumerate each additional percentage point of households that requires follow-ups by a census enumerator,” the RFP says.

The RFP notes that an integrated media campaign has paid off in the past. The first such effort, promoting Census 2000, helped increase the overall response rate to 67 percent, 2 percent better than Census 1990, and 6 points over the projected 61 percent rate of response. (Prior to 2000, the government relied on limited PSAs and PR to drive responses.)

The scope of work outlined in the draft 2010 RFP runs the gamut from research to creating and placing advertising and other messages in all conceivable media formats in order to reach an exceptionally diverse and decentralized target audience. The primary contractor will be expected to bring aboard numerous sub-contractors specializing in the African American, Asian American and Hispanic markets.

The accurate measurement and fine-tuning of marketing efforts are also stressed.

William Russell of the U.S. Census Bureau’s acquisitions division is the contracting officer.

The last census marketing effort in 1999 was managed by a team culled largely from what is now known as Y&R Brands. Young & Rubicam led the team, which included The Media Edge, The Bravo Group, Burson-Marsteller, Kang & Lee and independent G&G Advertising.

The campaign emphasized the federal funding benefits of standing up to be counted. One TV spot depicted school children being taught in a converted closet due to overcrowding and a lack of funds. The tagline was, “This is your future. Don’t leave it blank.”

Click here for the complete draft RFP.