2010 United States Census


A Challenging Decade of Silence and Change

The U.S. Census happens only once every decade. This massive undertaking determines the number and demographic composition of people residing in the United States and its territories. The census is mandated by the Constitution, and by law everyone must participate. However, legality doesn't equate with likelihood. Participation rates in Government surveys have been declining for decades. In 2000, for the first time, the Government utilized paid media to encourage participation.

On the surface, our assignment for the 2010 Census seemed rather simple — get people to complete and return the short, ten-question census survey. But we didn't have to convince just “people;” we had to convince “ALL the people.” Our challenge was unlike that of any commercial advertiser in history. We had to mobilize a diverse and sprawling nation of hundreds of millions to perform the same single action over a very short four-week period. That meant rallying the entire nation — citizens and noncitizens, English speakers and speakers of 58 other languages, both the willing and the apprehensive — to voluntarily take the time in a pervasively digital world to complete the census form by hand, and then go and drop it in a mailbox.