Alex Parker rounds up some reactions to the Census Bureau’s $2.5 million advertisement during last night’s Super Bowl. The ad was aimed at boosting participation in the 2010 Census: If people don’t mail in their census forms, the agency has to send census workers to their homes, and that gets expensive.
The ad was expensive, too — hence the criticism that the agency wasted money. But according to the Census Bureau, if 1 percent of Super Bowl viewers decide to mail in the 2010 Census form, it will save $25 million. That’s a 10-to-1 return on investment.
So the question is: Did the Census Bureau get that kind of return? And this is where I’m a little skeptical. The ad didn’t really encourage viewers to complete their census forms, or explain why it’s important, or why it saves money. It basically just said, “hey, the government conducts a census!” So I wonder how effective it was. (I’m sure the Census Bureau will do some follow-up research to see if the ad worked.)