Representing a Multicultural Nation


The United States census only happens once every 10 years, and it has the incredibly important role of representing our entire diverse nation.

This one count then helps inform funding for how trillions of dollars are distributed over the next ten years to communities for services like healthcare, roads, schools, and much more. And census results also determine the number of elected representatives each state receives for the next decade.

Yet, the populations at greatest risk of being undercounted were the communities with the greatest reasons for being skeptical about Census Bureau claims. We quickly learned that most weren’t sure why the 2020 Census mattered. Or worse, feared their responses would be used against them.

We would need to demonstrate that the 2020 Census was not some theoretical government program run by bureaucrats – but rather that it would be a tool to enable communities to shape their path for the next decade.

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Multicultural by design:
We created thousands of ways to make the census more inclusive.

The “Shape your future. START HERE” campaign served as an umbrella that encapsulated both mass and multicultural-specific efforts to be truly reflective of the diversity of communities that make up our country.

The campaign platform, website, and key outreach materials were developed in English and 12 other languages, and we additionally provided language support for response in 59 languages total.

VMLY&R brought together a team of specialist cultural agencies and working together we tailored our messaging to make it as relevant and motivating as possible to each unique multicultural audience  engaged trusted community leaders, and spoke to them in their language.

In all of this work—no matter the language or cultural context—“Shape your future. START HERE” reinforced that the power was in all of our hands to help our communities realize a better tomorrow

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We leveraged trusted voices and community partnerships to overcome each audience’s specific response barriers, enabling us to:

  • Reinforce to U.S. Hispanic audiences that everyone needs to take the 2020 Census, regardless of citizenship status
  • Convey the importance of the census in social justice conversations to Black/African American audiences
  • Rally both English- and non-English-speaking Asian American audiences by hosting an Asian American Week of Action
  • Galvanize Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islanders through a “Census for Hawaii” virtual concert and a powerful “This is Us” music video featuring the communities’ most influential musical artists
  • Inspire Native American audiences—to participate via social media pow wow content and Navajo language radio

Industry Awards and Recognition

Data Innovation; Social Responsibility; Government, Public Service, and Nonprofit; Grand Ogilvy: ARF David Ogilvy Awards 2021

GOLD, Government & Public Service: Effie Awards, United States 2021

BRONZE, National Strategy: 4A's Jay Chiat Awards

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