The U.S. Census Bureau went to great lengths, and apparently spared no expense, to boost participation in the decennial headcount in 2010. Its motto was "Stand up and be counted!"
But are you sitting down?
The Census spent $20,000 on a totem pole in the name of convincing more Alaskans to return their mail forms.
The government commissioned an Alaskan artist to carve the totem pole, which was then shuttled to tribal events throughout the state for several months to promote participation in the census, according to the Juneau Empire newspaper.
You can watch a Census Bureau video of the totem pole here.
Alaska is home to some of the nation's most difficult to count populations, people who live in the widely scattered, predominately native villages throughout rural parts of the state, according to the census.
As plans were being made for the 2010 head count in Noorvik, a city of some 600 people in Alaska's Northwest Arctic Borough, a native organization called the Alaska Native Brotherhood passed a resolution supporting the census and the creation of a totem pole to mark the significant event, a Census Bureau spokesman said in published reports.
"The totem pole is a storytelling icon steeped in the culture and traditions of the Alaska Native and Northwest Pacific Coastal peoples," the Census Bureau spokesman told the website My Two Census. "It is an immediately recognizable symbol to the native people throughout America's largest state."
The Census Bureau spent $20,000 to commission the piece. It spent an additional $3,111 to shuttle it to various parts of the country and, finally, to Washington, D.C., where it wil be on display.
"We believe strongly that this has been a very effective promotional investment that symbolizes the Census Bureau's constitutional mandate to ensure a complete count of all tribal lands, especially the 564 Federally recognized tribes," the Census Bureau spokesman told My Two Census.
"The response to the Census Totem encouraged us to find a permanent home for it here at our headquarters along with other historical Census artifacts."
The $23,311 cost is but a small part of the Census Bureau's promotional spending in 2010.
The government agency responsible for the constitutionally mandated decennial headcount spent more than ever, an estimated $340 million, on advertising and marketing in the months leading up to April 1.
So was the totem pole effective in boosting turnout? No.
Census data show the response rate in the Northwest Arctic Borough actually dropped by 6 percentage points in 2010 from 10 years earlier.
Fewer than half, or 49 percent, of the residents there mailed their questionnaires back in 2010, compared with 55 percent in the 2000 head count. The response rate fell across the entire state of Alaska as well, to 62 percent from 64 percent.