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Anyone who doesn't know there is a Census this year will know after Monday.
The government's unprecedented $340 million promotional blitz of the 2010 Census launches Monday with the debut of the Census Portrait of America Road Tour in New York City's Times Square.
A 46-foot trailer, to be unveiled on NBC's Today show, and 12 smaller cargo vans with 14-foot trailers will crisscross more than 150,000 miles nationwide through April to promote the benefits of responding to the 10-question Census.
They will stop at more than 800 events from local parades and festivals such as New Orleans' Mardi Gras and San Francisco's Chinese New Year celebration to national sporting events from the Super Bowl and the Daytona 500 to the NCAA Final Four.
"This thing is all over the place," says Angelo Falcón, president of the National Institute for Latino Policy and chairman of the Census advisory committee on Hispanics. He jokes that "it might make people sick of the Census."
This is just the beginning:
• $140 million on TV, radio, print and outdoor advertising, including $2.5 million for two ads in the Feb. 7 Super Bowl pregame show and a 30-second spot directed by Christopher Guest (This is Spinal Tap, Best in Show) and starring Ed Begley Jr.
• Roughly $80 million spent on ads will target racial and ethnic groups and non-English speakers in 28 languages. The bulk of it will pinpoint Hispanics, blacks, Asians and American Indians, but some ads will be in Arabic, Yiddish and other languages.
• Partners from Univision and Telemundo to Google and Best Buy will promote the Census.
• Census Director Robert Groves will help count the first American in the Inupiat village of Noorvik, Alaska, Jan. 25. The Census is done early in remote areas that have no road connections and where residents leave to fish and hunt after the spring thaw.
Seats in the House of Representatives are based on state population counts collected by the Census every 10 years. The Census is also used to redraw state and local political districts and allocate about $435 billion a year in federal money to states and local governments.
Despite this publicity, there is still concern not enough is being done to reach hard-to-count populations.
"I wish they had put more money into partnership programs, because state and local governments are under such fiscal strain," Falcón says
By Haya El Nasser, USA TODAY