NEW YORK: Four leading trade bodies, including the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and Advertising Research Foundation (ARF), have outlined their opposition to asking respondents to the 2020 US census about their citizenship status.

Bob Liodice, CEO of the ANA, and Scott McDonald, CEO of the ARF, sent a joint letter to the US Department of Commerce, of which the Census Bureau forms a part, stating their objections to asking “Is this person a citizen of the United States?” in the next population study, which is conducted once every ten years.

Marla Kaplowitz, president/CEO of the 4A’s (American Association of Advertising Agencies), and James Edmund Datri, president/CEO of the American Advertising Federation, were co-signatories on the letter.

“We are concerned that the addition of a citizenship question would depress response among both non-citizens and their families (even if family members are indeed citizens),” the letter asserted.

“That runs the risk of non-respondent bias by significantly undercounting immigrant, minority, and low-income populations. If immigrants and others avoid the national head-count, the census results will be flawed.”

Elaborating on the potential impacts for the marketing industry, the letter observed that inaccurate census results “would distort the representation of US population estimates and the research benchmarked to it.

“Since the census is the foundation for population estimates that support the marketing industry, inaccurate census data would lead to misallocated marketing resources.”

Building on this theme, the four industry groups warned it could also “have a particularly negative impact on media that serve multicultural communities, the companies which research them, and the agencies which help advertise to them.

“The value marketers see in those consumer segments would be understated and investments reduced.”

Sourced from ANA; additional content by WARC staff