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Census Bureau counts on Super Bowl ad

By Aaron Smith, CNNMoney.com staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The Census Bureau is advertising in the Super Bowl, trying to convince as many people as possible to participate in its once-a-decade nationwide head count.

The bureau is spending $2.5 million on its 30-second spot, which will urge Americans to answer its questionnaires that will be sent out in the next few weeks, according to bureau spokeswoman Kendall Johnson.

The ad's cost is a tiny portion of the bureau's $133 million advertising budget -- which itself is part of a total $340 million budget for a communications campaign that includes public relations, a road tour, recruitment, Web site development and other costs, the bureau said.

Most of the Census Bureau's campaign will be focused on "local, ethnic media," conducted in 28 languages, according to the bureau.

The bureau seeks to convince people of the need to participate in an accurate population tally for 2010. If it can get people to fill out the questionnaires, then it can avoid sending out staffers on house visits. The bureau estimates that it saves $80 million to $90 million for every one percentage point of the population that mails back the completed forms.

The bureau recognizes the effectiveness of the Super Bowl's reach after advertising in the game for the first time in 2000, said Johnson.

Last year was a record high for viewer volume, according to The Nielsen Company, with 98.7 million people tuning in to watch the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Arizona Cardinals.

This year's game, featuring the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints, will be played Feb. 7 at Sun Life Stadium near Miami. To top of page

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