2010 Census

Photographer: Christian Peacock
Agency: IW Group
Art Director: John LeeWong

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2010 Census Campaign – “THE CHALLENGE”

In the late summer of 2009 I received a phone call from Christian Peacock, a photographer from the bay area. He was calling to see if I was available to put together an estimate for a media campaign for the 2010 Census. At the time, I thought we were estimating for a couple days of shooting. I had no clue about the enormity of the project.  It turned out to be the largest and most demanding project I’ve ever worked on.

The task given to us by IW Group and DraftFCB was to photograph a three-phase awareness campaign for the 2010 Census- to reach the ‘hard to reach’ in the Asian community.

Our goal was to inform the Asian community of the importance of filling out the Census Form and how it would benefit their community.


Over a five month period we photographed 325 individuals from twelve different cultural groupings in the Asian community: Asian Indian, Bengali, Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Hmong, Lao, Pakistani, Thai and Vietnamese. Members of these groups would be seeing materials in their native language that included newspapers, magazines, billboards, sides of buses, bus shelters and flash movies for the web. It was important to make sure the ads worked effectively in the 150+ publications where they would be appearing.

The  challenge was finding the talent needed for the project. Traditional methods of issuing a “casting call” weren’t applicable as the individuals we needed likely didn’t speak English let alone have talent agency representation. We enlisted the help of Catherine Eng from Dame Casting to cast the project. Cat started reaching out to community organizers, church leaders and local community centers in hopes of locating enough talent for each cultural grouping. The Hmong and Loa talent were cast in Fresno, California because of their limited representation in the Los Angeles area. For the Pakistani group, Cat and team rented a booth at a Pakistani carnival. The approach was certainly unconventional…but it worked.

Personally for me, working on the ‘2010 Census’ for five months was an amazing cultural and learning experience.  However, a project of this size would not have been possible without the help and dedication of the 34 crew members. There were three people however whose commitment and contribution deserve special mention: Catherine Eng, who set the tone from the beginning of project with her work ethic and devotion in seeking out talent where none had been found before; wardrobe stylist Lilla Fowle whose unrelenting quest to find the appropriate wardrobe for each cultural grouping led her all the way to Minneapolis for a white Hmong jacket; and last but not least photographer, Christian Peacock (aka CP), whose calm demeanor, composure and endless support never wavered. He kept reminding me this was “a process.”

2010 Census Video By: Erich Valo