Advertising Age reported Y&R was picked to be the lead White advertising agency for the 2020 Census. No word yet on which minority shops might be tapped to receive Census crumbs—despite the original RFP stating that the winning agency must have access to “expertise and experience in communicating with and marketing to historically undercounted populations. These populations include such groups as African Americans/Blacks, Asians, Hispanics, American Indians and Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders.” Of course, the Census didn’t bother counting how the various groups are underrepresented in the halls of Y&R, and apparently doesn’t care that the agency is owned by a holding company based in the U.K. Only in America.
Y&R Tapped as Lead Agency for 2020 Census
WPP Shop Will Help Census Utilize ‘Emerging Technologies’ to Market Its Efforts
By Maureen Morrison
WPP’s Y&R has won the 2020 Census account after a review, according to people familiar with the matter.
The U.S. Census Bureau in late January issued a final RFP, with a projected completion sometime in August. Representatives for the Census, according to people familiar with the process, reached out this morning to agencies involved to let them know that Y&R won. As many as five agencies were finalists.
More than likely, a host of other agencies will be involved, handling media and multicultural marketing, among other disciplines. According to one person familiar with the review, agencies presented partner agencies and subcontractors in the review, though it was not immediately known what agencies would be working in tandem with Y&R.
Representatives for Y&R and the Census Bureau did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The bureau, for the next census, is looking to address marketing differently than it did for the 2010 Census, given how dramatically the media landscape has changed since then.
According to the RFP from January: “The communications industry has changed dramatically since the conduct of the 2010 Census, principally due to changes and advances in technology, communications mechanisms, and consumer expectations. The Internet, wireless technologies, and mobile personal devices have opened new communications channels and media that have empowered consumers with increased connectivity to marketers. The Census Bureau fully intends to harness these emerging technologies and channels as part of the 2020 Census Integrated Communications Contract.”
The RFP also said that “the total estimated value for the full lifecycle of this contract” is about $415 million. It wasn’t clear what the fee would be for the lead agency, or other agencies involved.
One of the Census Bureau’s biggest challenges for each census is getting people to respond—especially those in hard-to-count populations. The RFP said that the winning agency will need to have, either from a subcontractor or itself, “expertise and experience in communicating with and marketing to historically undercounted populations. These populations include such groups as African Americans/Blacks, Asians, Hispanics, American Indians and Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders.”
The RFP goes on to say that “racial and ethnic group is not the sole indicator of hard-to-count and non-respondent populations. They also tend to be characterized by renters, high unemployment, low education, low income, difficulty reading or writing in English, the young and mobile, the older population, and household crowding, among other factors.”
For the 2010 Census, more than a dozen agencies were contracted to handle the work. Interpublic’s FCB, then called DraftFCB, was the lead agency on the campaign, though other IPG shops were involved, including Asian-American shop IW Group and Jack Morton, an experiential agency. GlobalHue also played a role, creating work aimed at African-Americans.
The way these things usually happen is that the main General Market agency lists its holding company's multicultural agencies as partners, then shoves them aside after the ink on the contract is dry.
They probably had UniWorld at the table to prove African-American, "urban" and multicultural expertise. Then Bravo Group to show that Y&R knows and cares about Hispanics. Some LGBTQ PR agency, too.
How much work will any of them get? Only cast off crumbs, honestly. Basic print materials, some translations, maybe niche banner ads.
It's not unheard of for the holding company to manipulate things to the extent that on PAPER it looks like one of the "minority" companies is the lead on the contract to tick off government boxes, but the truth is that they're literally only at the table long enough to land the account and fade back into obscurity later.
I know a lot of creatives and account managers and even heads of minority agencies that were promised the moon on these big government, Census, health, insurance, military accounts, but had all the high paid work taken from them as soon as it awarded. The holding company gets all the money.
The only way to know for sure on the Census account of course is to do an FOIA request from the Census Bureau to see what's actually in Y&R's bid. I suspect it lists a lot of minority partners that will see metal shavings, not dimes, if anything at all once the actual money and work is divvied up.
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