Univision rolls out new ads urging Hispanics to take part in census
Spanish-language media giant Univision is expanding its ad campaign to convince Hispanic constituents to participate in the upcoming census, amid criticism from some Democratic lawmakers that federal officials aren’t doing enough to promote the survey.
Census Day is officially April 1, but remote enumeration started in January and the Census Bureau will send out national invitations to complete the survey online starting Thursday. It will be the first decennial digital population count in history, marking a change from earlier exercises.
Univision this week unveiled a bilingual effort that includes free kits composed of videos and printed materials with “Sesame Street” characters to underscore the importance of counting children in the census. It’s part of a multiplatform campaign the network has been running for over a year urging Hispanic residents to take part in the survey.
Children are among the groups most often undercounted in the federal survey, directly leading to overcrowded schools as federal dollars are disproportionately assigned to populations with higher census participation rates.
The Univision campaign also includes PSAs on its national network, as well as local ads and news stories and a digital campaign.
“Univision’s Cuenta Conmigo campaign, which has been working to demonstrate the importance of the Census for over a year, is a continuation of our company’s commitment to inform and empower Hispanic America,” said Univision Senior Vice President Ron Estrada.
“We’re activating across the nation to urge our community to be counted in the Census as invitations to participate are mailed out this month. At stake is funding for healthcare, education, infrastructure, and other issues in addition to proportional representation,” he added.
A Univision representative did not reveal the size of the company’s investment in the census, but said “we’re leveraging Univision’s vast array of resources to make this happen.”
Lawmakers have praised private organizations such as Univision for taking part in promoting the census while criticizing what they see as lukewarm promotion efforts on the part of the Trump administration.
“I wish that the federal government and the state governments were as committed as they had been in the past to a fair census count, that’s obviously not the case at this point under the Trump administration,” said Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), the chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC).
“I’m glad that nonprofits and even the private sector have stepped in to try to fill that void,” said Castro.
Minority community leaders are especially active in census promotion, as their communities are much more likely to be undercounted in the survey, leading to political underrepresentation and underfunding of federal programs.
Congressional Democrats are also pushing census participation as a way to combat gerrymandering and voter suppression.
In a press conference last week hosted by the CHC, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and the Native American Caucus, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) warned about the negative impact on participation of Republican materials designed to look like census forms.
“Don’t give a victory to the other side by falling prey to their fear campaign about what they put out, the Republicans had put out — this administration has put out — something that says, ‘This is an official document do not tear up, fill it out.’ It’s not a census form,” said Pelosi.
Pelosi also slammed Facebook for running the advertisements designed to look like census forms.
Since the census determines how all of federal funding is granted to communities, it affects everything from schooling to transportation to emergency services.
South Texas Rep. Filemon Vela (D) said he has worked on the census with authorities in his district at the federal, state and local levels to raise awareness, but that federal participation in 2020 was subpar.
“Of course, the Trump administration should be a whole lot more proactive at making sure we have an accurate count, but we all know that they don’t want an accurate count,” said Vela.
“Clearly it’s the responsibility of the federal government, but because we know they’re not going to do it, we have to kind of do it ourselves,” he added.
The Census Bureau did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The bureau has run its own ads on Univision in an effort to increase participation in the 2020 census and has spent millions of dollars on an ad campaign seeking to reassure members of the Latino community across the country that their information won’t be shared with federal authorities, following controversy over the Trump administration’s proposed citizenship question on this year’s survey.
Castro maintained that while some minority communities could feel somewhat discouraged from sharing their information with the census, energy surrounding the 2020 election could have a positive impact on participation overall.
“You would hope that the civic spirit that has been apparent in 2018 and the primaries of 2020 will spill over into census participation,” Castro said.
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