2010 Census ads not quite the pinnacle of creative achievement

Posted on Tue Apr 6 2010


We don't need much proof that the federal government sucks at almost everything it does. But in case you wanted it, here's proof that it sucks at marketing, too. A quick survey of the municipal posters aimed at getting people psyched to participate in the 2010 Census reveals some of the most sleep-inducing visual work since Andy Warhol trained a camera at the Empire State Building for 24 straight hours and called it a movie.  
  One poster, spotted at a local post office, features a sexy profile shot of a mailbox and blares the headline: "A Census form will arrive at your home address in March 2010." (We'd better stay home and wait for that, huh maw?) Another, seen recently in Littleton, Colo., makes a photo-montage of a U.S. map—stock headshots, each more thrilling than the last—and asks the cliffhanger question: "Have you been counted?" Perhaps the worst of the lot uses a field of baby blue inexplicably rendered as a film strip and reads: "Come to your senses and fill out your Census." (Wow, lemme at them forms!)  
  Granted, the Census isn't the most exciting thing in the world to sell to people, but isn't that exactly where good marketing is needed most? Uncle Sam would have done a lot better to farm this PR job out. Take, for example, what the civil-rights group The Leadership Conference did. Its Census poster shows a silhouette of the Holy Family on their way to Bethlehem on a donkey's back. "This is how Jesus was born," the headline reminds the faithful. "Joseph and Mary participated in the Census." Now, that's one marketing message that's tough to argue with.

—Posted by Robert Klara



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