01/11/2012 08:34 am ET Updated Mar 12, 2012

Bringing Latino Flare into Pop Culture and the People's Choice Awards

For most Hispanic marketers, branded entertainment campaigns and event integrations tend to be limited to the usual Latino events and award shows. But have we forgotten that 62% of Hispanics are U.S. born, making them the emerging majority of Latinos that are comfortable living in the two worlds? Unfortunately that statistic is misunderstood by many marketers that assume "they speak English, therefore I don't need to do anything special," while ignoring the power of cultural relevancy and emotional insights that transcends language.

If stars like Enrique Iglesias, Selena Gomez, Pitbull, Don Omar and Sofia Vergara have demonstrated the power of inclusion, biculturalism and cross-over in entertainment, why are not more marketers embracing the mainstream with marketing cross-over too?

FOCUS Latino finds that, "Latinos identifying themselves as bicultural spend the majority of their TV viewing time- 72%-with English language TV and 28% with Spanish language programming." According to the Maximo Report, a study co-sponsored by MTV Tr3s and conducted by Motivo Insights and the New Generation Latino Consortium, "30% of young, bicultural Latinos actively seek out "mainstream" English-only content, while 50% seek content that could be defined as bicultural or bilingual. About 70% said they like to see English-language ads appearing on predominantly Spanish-language TV channels. Instead, they look for programming where "they are the star," "their lives, entertainment interests and issues are authentically represented," and "their American and Latino sides meet," according to the report summary.

It boils down to this: cultural-relevancy...both in English and en Español! Many Latinos don't see themselves or their voice properly represented in the so called "mainstream media," but those making an effort to connect and stand out within it are being noticed and hitting el corazón unexpectedly. From ads like the Volkswagen commercial that ends in full Spanish or a McDonald's commercial with hints of Spanglish during primetime television to media giants launching Latino properties like Fox News Latino, Hispanics at NBC, NBC Latino and The Huffington Post Latino Voices, the game of engagement is changing. Why? Because of the relevancy gap in the mainstream. However, brands that embrace the power of inclusion are able to break through the clutter like no other.

For example, Post Honey Bunches of Oats is taking a unique twist to kick off 2012 with the People's Choice Awards. With a vision for total market planning they will be leveraging resources realizing that Latinos are navigating the bicultural and bilingual entertainment-waters. The brand will be engaging Latinos via a targeted bilingual social media campaign, hosting a live-twitter party and facilitating forums to share content and cultural perspectives surrounding the show.

"At Post, we are not translating whatever we're doing for the 'General Market' while simply checking the box for Hispanics. We're taking a full 'Total Market' approach to truly own the show with all of our important consumer targets with the objective to increase the over-all impact to Honey Bunches of Oats. This is something that I have not seen many brands do well in traditional award shows and somehow they forget about the very important bicultural Latina. Typically marketing is managed by separate General Market and Hispanic teams that don't work together and programs often seem very disconnected after execution. At Post, we lead with insights that aid in generating well thought out and relevant content for our consumers to enjoy." said Mike Foley, Brand Manager, U.S. Hispanic and Export, Post Foods.

A LIVE RED CARPET TWITTER PARTY will be hosted on January 11th, starting at 7/6C while the show airs, uniting Latino fashionistas, reporters and critics to share the best moments, celebrity encounters and more under the hash-tag #HBOatsLatinoVIP from the People's Choice Awards. The list of influencers like founder of the largest Latino group on Facebook "Being Latino" @lancerios, fashion expert @bechicmag, lifestyle online magazine @lacosmopolatina, celebrity reporter@oscarpetit, digital expert @enriquisisimo, and me @liligil, among others will gather to bring a strong Latino voice into the People's Choice Awards.

Hopefully this serves as inspiration to start the year right with a true mindset of inclusion and total market power, which happens to have a lot of Latino within it!

Lili Gil is an award-winning business and Hispanic market expert, business, politics and news media contributor and creator of the online show and channel Moments2CulturRise. She is also co-founder and managing partner of XL Alliance a multicultural strategy and marketing firm dedicated to helping business executives and leaders navigate and enter emerging markets. Gil was recently selected by the World Economic Forum as one of only 190 Young Global Leaders identified across 65 countries for her leadership, community and business impact.