Radio commercials blare ranchera tunes, beseeching Mexican-Americans to fill out their census forms. Print ads with a portrait of a Thai family with a carved elephant in the background implore Thais to do the same. So does a Congolese basketball hero in another.
The ads scream stand up and be counted, and are designed to reach some of the most difficult to count communities across the nation.
"We wanted to make sure that in addition to being 'in language,' we were also 'in culture,'" said Raul Cisneros, chief of the 2010 Census publicity office. "We've got to count everybody, so we've got to pull all the levers."
During the 2000 Census, when the bureau used paid advertisements for the first time in its history, critics accused the agency of adopting an overly generic, one-size-fits-all approach in its efforts to reach minorities.
Speakers of Vietnamese, Persian, Hindi, Greek and other languages were not addressed in their native tongues. Billboards designed for continental-U.S.-based Hispanics were also deployed in Puerto Rico.