With a population made up of 150 nationalities speaking 90 languages, Broward County knew it would be difficult to insure a complete count of its citizens during Census 2000. Ten years earlier, it was estimated that the county failed to receive nearly $1 billion in funding due to an undercount of 70,000 individuals. The county was faced with having to provide services to these "hard to enumerate" populations without receiving the funding that each person counted would have brought to Broward.
Ambit designed and implemented a grass-roots public relations campaign to raise awareness within ethnic and minority audiences about the importance of being counted. To create a campaign that was sensitized for a wide variety of cultural differences, a cultural anthropologist was added to the Ambit research and planning team. The extra insight provided by this specialist proved invaluable.
Tailoring messages to individual audiences, the campaign focused on overcoming language barriers, fear of government (based on experience in their home country,) and the perception that there was no real benefit for an individual to participate.
Ambit secured buy-in from community and religious influencers, created a video featuring real people encouraging participation, produced tri-lingual posters to be hung in high-traffic areas, and provided a steady stream of news, information, and expert source submissions to mainstream and ethnic media. Ambit raised visibility for the campaign by staging community and press events such as "Census Day in Broward County" featuring an Elvis-impersonator singing "Return your Census" using Ambit written lyrics to the tune of "Return to Sender."
The estimated number of uncounted residents declined significantly from 1990 levels. Additionally, the United States Census Bureau recognized Ambit and Broward County in a nationally released promotional video as having one of the most creative and effective campaigns in the nation.