Census resorts to product placement


Faced with the prospects of an undercount among the US Hispanic population, the Census Bureau is pulling out all the marketing stops – even having a Census recruiter written into the plot of a Telemundo telenovela.

The program is “Más Sabe el Diablo,” or “The Devil Knows Best,” for those of you who are not bilingual. According to a report in the New York Times, a character in the program has been recently widowed, is surrounded by unsavory characters (as a matter of fact, her husband had been an unsavory character himself and was murdered), and she hits upon the idea of working for the Census Bureau as a way out.

Standard PSAs and advertisements will also he used to reach this traditionally Census-shy segment of the population. The challenge is even greater than usual this time around, since the immigration issue is as hot as it’s ever been – and even legal Hispanic citizens may have illegal friends and relative they wish to protect, and further, even legal Hispanic citizens may harbor a deep-seated mistrust of the government.

There are other challenges, such as a highly mobile polulation and multiple families living within a single dwelling.

The problem is that an undercount prevents the government from allocating the proper amount of resources to areas where Hispanic population is concentrated.

The character in “Diablo” will try to take the fear out of being counted, on a very popular television show, five nights a week.

RBR-TVBR observation: We hope the FCC is watching its own government colleagues use the valuable product placement technique to good effect before they try to clamp down on it for no good reason.

This is not a case of the government trying to sneak through some controversial policy via fake news releases or by paying a pundit to espouse a certain position.

It is case of finding the best way to forward a noble cause.

Coca Cola does a noble thing when it advertises on television. So, friends at the FCC, when Simon Cowell sips a Coke on his TV show, it does not represent Coke putting one over on the American public – it represents Coke making free delivery of a popular program – and the tornado warning that may well interrupt it some day – possible.