Taxpayers to Fork Out $2.5 Million for Single Census Ad During Super Bowl

Taxpayers might want to pay close attention to this Sunday's Super Bowl broadcast or they'll miss Uncle Sam's 30-second, $2.5-million reminder to stand up and be counted.

That's what the Census Bureau paid CBS to get their message notched somewhere between a National Lampoon reprisal, a weird dude with big glasses, a beer-can house and men without pants.

And, that's just a fraction of what the bureau plans to spend this year to get Americans to answer a simple, 10-question survey.

The bureau is spending $133 million between January and May -- or, more than $13 million for each of 10 questions, one of which reads: What is your telephone number? -- to publicize the national head-count. Part of that effort is the Super Bowl ad, which Kendall Johnson, a spokeswoman for the bureau, confirmed Wednesday to cost $2.5 million to air. The ad, produced by actor and director Christopher Guest, also will appear in other media, Johnson said.

"We have rotations across all kinds of cable properties on network and cable TV," she said, adding that the bureau plans to advertise in 28 languages, including some as obscure as Hmong, a southeast Asian dialect.

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SLIDESHOW: $132M Census Ad Campaign in 28 Languages

"What an absolute colossal waste of money," said David Williams, vice president for policy at Citizens Against Government Waste, a government watchdog group based in Washington.

"That's a lot of money to spend on a glorified public service announcement," Williams said. "While they're counting people, we're going to be counting the dollars that they're spending."

Shannon Jacobs, a spokeswoman for CBS, which airs the Super Bowl, told Wednesday that advertisements for this year's game have topped $3 million.

CBS sold some ads "north of $3 million," she said, adding that there's a range in price depending on the advertisement's placement during the game.

The census, conducted every 10 years, is an official count of the nation's population mandated by the Constitution. The results are used to determine distribution of taxpayer money and the apportionment of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives. Every U.S. household, including those occupied by non-citizens and illegal immigrants, must be counted.

The census questionnaire -- touted by the bureau as one of the shortest forms in history -- consists of 10 questions and is intended to take no longer than 10 minutes to complete, according to the bureau's Web site.

YOU DECIDE: Do You Buy Into Census Bureau's Super Bowl Ad?