NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- After telenovela star and singer Jencarlos Canela signed an autograph for a MediaVest exec with the words "think positive" in Spanish, a fully integrated U.S. Hispanic marketing platform for Post Foods' Honey Bunches of Oats followed. The campaign starts next week in a product category -- cereal -- that has become one of the hottest for Hispanic marketers.
NBC Universal's savvy Telemundo Communications Group holds its lengthy annual client development meetings with marketers and their Hispanic agencies at the Spanish-language TV network's Miami studios, where stars provide a burst of excitement by dropping in during breaks in filming to meet the visiting client and agency execs.
Mr. Canela was starring as the devil in the hit Telemundo novela "Mas Sabe El Diablo" ("The Devil Knows Best") and had a concert tour coming up when he stopped by the meeting where Post Foods and MV42°, Starcom MediaVest Group's Hispanic division, were brainstorming about doing an integrated multimedia program with a song. During his visit, Mr. Canela chatted about Telemundo and his own projects, took pictures with the client, and signed an autograph with the words "piense positivo," said Telemundo Chief Operating Officer Jacqueline Hernandez.
"He brought the idea to life in human form," she said.
As Post and its rivals General Mills and Kellogg Co. all pour new marketing dollars into their Hispanic efforts, Post's "Pensemos Positivo" ("Let's Think Positive") campaign breaks next week. Working with Telemundo's new music division, Discos Telemundo, it includes a song about positive thinking written and recorded by Mr. Canela in three versions -- Spanish, English and a dance mix. And Mr. Canela's face will appear on four million cereal boxes in a national sweepstakes that can be entered at telemundo.com/pensemospositivo and will end with a private concert in Miami attended by the winner.
For Honey Bunches of Oats, it's the first time a celebrity has been used on the cereal pack and also the first time a bilingual pack promotion has appeared, said Mike Foley, Post Foods' Hispanic marketing lead, a job created in June 2010 in order to have an executive devoted full time to targeting Hispanics. (Post also hired a U.S. Hispanic creative shop, LatinWorks, last year).
Post and Telemundo think Mr. Canela, a handsome bilingual Cuban-American in his early 20s, has crossover potential to appeal to the general market, too.
"We believe in Jencarlos Canela as a total market musician and actor," Mr. Foley said. "He represents a lot of our brand ideals and messaging. He's a role model. He'll become the voice of the brand. "
Meanwhile, he'll be all over Telemundo and its English-language cable channel Mun2. He'll host an episode of a Mun2 music show to debut the new "Pensemos Positivo" music video, and Mun2 will produce and air the private concert in Miami. On-air promotions include a 30" vignette featuring Rashel Diaz, host of Telemundo's morning show Levantate, talking about "Pensemos Positivo." In Post Foods' first Hispanic efforts with Telemundo last year, also put together by MV42°, Ms. Diaz did interstitials mentioning Honey Bunches of Oats and how tasty the cereal is.
Post Foods learned last year that investing in Hispanic pays off. For the fiscal year ending in September 2010, sales of the brand to Hispanic consumers grew by 15% to 20%, Mr. Foley said. After General Mills' Cheerios, Honey Bunches of Oats is the second biggest-selling cereal brand to Hispanics, with a 9.2% share of the Hispanic market. About 80% of Post's budget for Honey Bunches of Oats is spent in the general market and 20% on Hispanic efforts, he said.
"We don't spend anywhere near the level of our competitors, and we're seeing amazing growth," he said. "We're sourcing volume from key competitors, and a lot from new users."
For the first nine months of 2010, Post Foods spent $7.9 million on Hispanic advertising, up 86% from the same period the previous year, according to Kantar Media. Kellogg Co. invested $10.5 million on cereal advertising in Hispanic media, almost entirely on Corn Flakes and Frosted Flakes, after spending less than $600,000 during the first three quarters of 2009. The biggest Hispanic cereal advertiser was General Mills, at $25.6 million for the first nine months of 2010 -- up 124% from the same period in 2009. (General Mills spent a total of $66.8 million through September 2009 when Hispanic advertising for other categories like Totinos pizza, Yoplait yogurt, and Pillsbury and Betty Crocker products is included).
In 2011, Post Foods will start putting Hispanic marketing support behind another cereal brand, Pebbles, which ranks No. 8 in sales to Hispanics, Mr. Foley said.