Eye Opener: Fortune cookies promoting the Census
Happy Friday! Some Chinese food lovers in the Pacific Northwest enjoying a fortune cookie may soon get a fortune message that says, "You are an incredibly smart, beautiful person who will enjoy great success," on one side and "Put down your chopsticks and get involved in Census 2010" on the other.
The U.S. Census Bureau has paid $3,000 to a Seattle-based fortune cookie maker to add promotional messages about the national headcount on the back of the cookie's one-line messages of encouragement. The deal is part of the agency's multimillion dollar outreach campaign that stretches across television, radio, newspapers and the Internet in more than 20 languages.
"Somebody from my the regional office with the U.S. Census said, 'Hey can you print a census message on the back,' and I did," said Timothy Louie, owner of the Tsue Chong Company. His team produces 80,000 fortune cookies a day, roughly 400,000 a week or about 20.8 million a year and sells them to restaurants in Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington State. Louie's shop will produce roughly 2 million cookies with the Census messages between now and early April when census forms are due.
“This is very unique, where we can partner up with the U.S. government and it’s a significant thing in history where the government is trying to get information about the population," Louie said.
Census officials in Washington said a local group helping to promote the census suggested the fortune cookie message and the regional office ponied up the funds. The $3,000 pays for printing the message and Louie takes care of distribution by sending the cookies to his customers.
The agency and its partners have tried several mainstream and unorthodox ways to increase census participation. A widely panned $2.5 million Super Bowl commercial used Hollywood actors to deliver a census message. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke will serve as grand marshal of San Francisco's Chinese New Year Parade this weekend get out the word. And a coalition of minority groups distributed fliers last year reminding churchgoers that Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem because Joseph and Mary had gone there to participate in the census.
And lest you need proof that the fortune cookie campaign is working, Louie said he can't recall filling out his Census forms in 2000, but definitely plans to this year. So it seems the agency's outreach efforts are working, one American at a time.
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| February 26, 2010; 5:59 AM ET
Categories: Census, Eye Opener
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