Four leading United States marketing trade associations this week formally and officially registered their opposition to the addition of a citizenship question on the upcoming 2020 U.S. census questionnaire. The American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s), American Advertising Federation (AAF), Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) sent a joint letter to the U.S. Department of Commerce in which they said they were opposed to the new census inquiry that asks: “Is this person a citizen of the United States?” “We are concerned that the addition of a citizenship question would depress response among both non-citizens and their families (even if family members are indeed citizens),” the letter stated. “That runs the risk of non-respondent bias by significantly undercounting immigrant, minority, and low-income populations. If immigrants and others avoid the national head-count, the census results will be flawed.” Reproduced below, the letter was signed by the CEOs of each of the trade groups.
August 7, 2018 Ms. Jennifer Jessup Departmental Paperwork Clearance Officer Department of Commerce Room 6616 14th and Constitution Avenue NW Washington, DC 20230 Email: PRAcomments@doc.gov Re: Docket number USBC–2018–0005 Dear Ms. Jessup, On behalf of our respective members, the 4A’s, the AAF, the ANA, and the ARF — the major trade associations representing the advertising industry — are jointly writing to express our opposition to the addition of the new census question that asks, “Is this person a citizen of the United States?” We are concerned that the addition of a citizenship question would depress response among both non-citizens and their families (even if family members are indeed citizens). That runs the risk of non-respondent bias by significantly undercounting immigrant, minority, and low-income populations. If immigrants and others avoid the national head-count, the census results will be flawed. This raises significant issues in the world of marketing, as flawed results would distort the representation of U.S. population estimates and the research benchmarked to it. Since the census is the foundation for population estimates that support the marketing industry, inaccurate census data would lead to misallocated marketing resources. It could have a particularly negative impact on media that serve multicultural communities, the companies which research them, and the agencies which help advertise to them. The value marketers see in those consumer segments would be understated and investments reduced. As one of our members stated, “I believe that undocumented people will not report their presence and therefore the census will be underreported, skewing data, messing up budgets, and providing inaccurate reporting.” We respectfully request that this citizenship question NOT be added to the 2020 Census. Marla Kaplowitz, President/CEO, American Association of Advertising Agencies James Edmund Datri, President/CEO, American Advertising Federation Bob Liodice, CEO, Association of National Advertisers Scott McDonald, President/CEO, Advertising Research Foundation Please click here to access the ANA Census Study