Top 5 Brands at the National Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City

By Lili Gil, Cofounder XL Alliance (

As the 55th National Puerto Rican Day Parade wraps another successful celebration of pride and cultural richness; the event serves as a reminder and visible display of the great contributions of the close to 5 million proud Boricuas that reside in the U.S. and millions of Latinos who join in the celebration!

With a theme focused on higher education, this year’s parade highlighted organizations and programs that foster the development and support of diverse students seeking higher education. Scholarships granted by the Parade’s Diversity Foundation and partner Hostos Community College, have touched over 250 student’s lives. In addition, many national brands and sponsors participated in the event with their floats and bi-lingual integrations as part of the English live broadcast by Fox5 and my9 TV in the tri-state area. But, who did it best and why?

While many marketers may pass on local festivals or parade’s; when integrated as part of a broader effort, a strategic national campaign and a focus on localization, events like the National Puerto Rican Day Parade present a prime opportunity for brands to connect to the heart of communities where it matters most.

So, let’s do a small exercise…regardless of “ethnicity” which ones are your top 3 markets in the U.S.? it is likely that New York certainly ranks in that list with a total state population that is close to 20% Hispanic. However , are you targeting them with relevancy? Are you going deep and reaching their hearts? For example, did you know that one in three people in New York City’s 8 million-people metropolitan area is Latino? But are you investing 30% of your budget to reach the Puerto Ricans and Dominicans that dominate this important market.

Clearly brands that have noticed are reporting a winning difference in their business, particularly since most traditional Mexican-American marketing strategies applied nationally do not relate to the Caribbean profile of primary consumers in the tri-state area.

Who did it best and why? Below are some highlights on the top 5 brands who demonstrated a strategic “play” as they paraded the streets of New York with other close to 3 million excited attendees and millions watching on television.

1. Coca-Cola: Besides a beautiful float nicely matching with an Olympic theme, Coca-Cola stayed consistent with their national focus on supporting the education of Latinos. Hispanic Coca-Cola scholars joined the parade and were also featured as part of branded vignettes that aired during the live broadcast on Fox5. A nice tie into their national positioning of “destapa la felicidad,” open happiness, focus on education and leverage of the Olympic sponsorships, were all brought together seamlessly into the celebration. Well done Coke!

2. Goya: Iconic Hispanic brand Goya was of course involved, live and present. Goya was the brand with the most in-the-street presence with beautiful branded uniforms dressing up dance teams during the parade. Also on-air mentions confirmed their positioning as presenting sponsor and relevant bilingual spots ran during the English broadcast. This activation is one of the many that Goya conducts in the city of New York; where they are known for their community involvement, contributions and participation in a variety of grass-root events. Si es Goya, tiene que ser bueno…muy bueno.

3. American Airlines: During the broadcast we learned that American Airlines has been involved with the Puerto Rican Day Parade for 40 years! And serving the city of New York for 80 years. The airline was bold enough to air full Spanish spots during the English broadcast on Fox, which certainly caught the viewer’s attention. Strong presence at the main stage and also ties into their causes and corporate contributions make this activation a great compliment for their efforts to reach Latinos.

4. McDonald’s/ Dr. Pepper: WOW! The McDonald’s semi-trucks were impossible to miss! Giant trucks and a beautiful co-branded McDonald’s and Dr. Pepper truck paraded with a theme aligned to their on-going FIESTA TOUR; which takes these enormous semi-trucks into various Hispanic festivals, events and even schools and a tribute to music on wheels. This activation is also in line with their sponsorship of the Latin GRAMMY Awards and other social and cause related activities. ¡Impresionante y gigante!

5. Honey Bunches of Oats: While it’s expected for big brands like Coke and Goya to participate, Post Food’s Honey Bunches of Oats showed that you don’t need big budgets to make a big impact. The cereal brand’s partnership with SBS station La Mega 97.9fm earned them a spot at the parade which was nicely enhanced with beautiful brand ambassadors and relevant messaging. So what made their integration so clever and smart? The use of the word “Bonche” and “Bonchecitos!” “Bonche” is a common Puerto Rican term for a gathering of people or a party, which ties nicely into the cereal’s name Honey Bunches of Oats. Their participation in the parade is part of a summer long campaign in NY/NJ called “Bonchecitos Positivos” including in-store programs, radio, TV, exclusive branded entertainment and participation in local events like the Puerto Rican Day Parade, Miss Dominican Republic US, and exclusive events with artists Chino y Nacho and Fonseca, among other activations. ¡Qué buen bonche, Honey Bunches of Oats!

One more parade comes and goes, and if you missed out on this one you still have time to make it up with the many other local events that are approaching like the Miss Dominican Republic US pageant events; presented in partnership with SBS and Telemundo47 and the Dominican Day Parade.

And of course, ¡felicitaciones a nuetros hermanos Boricuas en sus celebraciones!

Lili Gil is cofounder of XL Alliance, business and politics TV media contributor and creator of the online channel Moments2CulturRise. She has also been selected by the World Economic Forum as only one of 190 Young Global Leaders. You can follow Lili Gil on Twitter @liligil. Also subscribe to for the latest market news.


Categories: NGL News

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