Population Research and Policy Review 21: 155–161, 2002.
© 2002 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
Advertising the Census: A commentary on the “Census 2000
Partnership and Marketing Program Evaluation”, Population and
Policy Review, Special Issue: Census 2000
DAVID W. STEWART
Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California
The United States Census Bureau faces an especially daunting task: ﬁnding
and counting every person in the United States every ten years. Response to
the census count has long been problematic but it has become an increasingly
troublesome issue during the past several decennial censuses. Past efforts to
encourage participation in the census count have relied on voluntary programs
and pro bono efforts that are difﬁcult to coordinate, largely unfocused, and de-
pendent on the goodwill and competence of many different local community
partners, public organizations and volunteers from the commercial sector. As
Rivers, Poyer and Norris (2002) observe, the Census 2000 Partnership and
Marketing Program was the ﬁrst effort of the Census Bureau to use an integ-
rated marketing campaign and paid advertising to encourage participation in
the decennial census count. A commentary on the Census 2000 Partnership
and Marketing Program Evaluation on this program provides an opportunity
to do two things: (1) commend the Census Bureau for a job well done and (2)
provide some thoughts about the uses of advertising and advertising research
in general and in the more speciﬁc context of government programs such as
the Census 2000 Partnership and Marketing Program.
The Census Bureau does a remarkable job that is not fully appreciated.
Its work should be commended for three reasons. First, despite the enormity
and difﬁculty of its task the Census Bureau provides some the best, most
reliable and most useful data collected anywhere by anyone. The import of
the decisions informed by the data obtained by the Census Bureau makes
the Bureau the frequent target of criticism and its methods and results are
increasingly subjected to second-guessing by legislative bodies, in litigation,
and in other venues. Yet, the high proﬁle second guessing that accompanies
David W. Stewart is the Robert E. Brooker Professor of Marketing and Deputy Dean
in the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California. Correspond-
ence regarding this paper should be addressed to David W. Stewart, c/o the Ofﬁce of the
Deputy Dean, Marshall School of Business, HOH800C, University of Southern Califor-
nia, Los Angeles, CA 90089-1426. Telephone: (213) 740-5037. Facsimile: (213) 740-6465.