In justifying its $2.5M Super Bowl advertising spend, the U.S. Census Bureau schools critics about the value of PR.
Sen. John McCain is among those ripping the Bureau for that ad buy, calling it an example of the federal government being "completely out of touch with what's going on out there in the real world." He blasts Census bureaucrats providing grist for the "tea party" crowd.
It is McCain who is out of touch with how the communication world works.
The Bureau is fighting back. Paraphrasing Willie Sutton's line about robbing banks because that's where the money is, the Bureau says it's spending for the Super Bowl because that's where its audience is. The ad is expected to be viewed by 45 percent of adults over the age of 18.
In comparison, a 30-second spot on top-rated "American Idol" costs $450,000 but attracts only 9.5 percent of adults. CBS, which is broadcasting the Super Bowl, also threw in two 30-second spots during the pre-game show as a sweetener.
["Payton Schlewitt" (aka Ed Begley Jr.) stars in this "behind-the-scenes" video about the spot.]
The Bureau lauds the PR value of the package noting Super Bowl advertisers are mentioned in the run-up to the Game (e.g., John McCain's attack) and in the annual post-game rankings of the ads. "Therefore, airing once in the Super Bowl creates significant buzz leading to additional viewing potential," notes the Bureauís blog.
The Bureau also is guaranteed online plugs by CBS talent. In its package deal, the network promised explicit online census mentions by pregame show anchor James Brown. "We believe the message delivered by James Brown, who is the host of the day, will carry great weight with viewers," the Bureau noted. Brown will deliver at least two 12-second promotions.
The Bureau also notes that Super Bowl advertisers enjoy a "significant lift in Internet searches, which is a great opportunity for the Census to drive traffic to 2010census.gov to further educate viewers on the Census. "