BIG G LAUNCHES CEREAL, CD-ROM WITH MLB DEAL

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General Mills is launching a new cereal called Major League Grand Slams, and a promotional CD-ROM game that lets kids play virtual baseball with the Trix Rabbit and other characters.

Both are part of the marketer's wide-ranging promotional deal with Major League Baseball.

Other promotional tie-ins include collectible baseball cards to be cut off boxes of Hamburger Helper and Fruit Roll-Ups and an offer for a cereal bowl shaped like a batting helmet. Big G also will renew the Wheaties All-Star box later in the season.

`A HOME RUN THEME'

In-store advertising will support Major League Grand Slams, shaped like baseballs, bats, gloves and diamonds. Major league sluggers Mark McGwire of the St. Louis Cardinals, Mike Piazza of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Frank Thomas of the Chicago White Sox are on the front of the box.

"It's a home run theme," said Richard White, general manager, Major League Baseball Players Association, a co-sponsor with General Mills and MLB. "General Mills believes home runs are hot with kids."

The baseball CD-ROM offer won't be on boxes of Major League Grand Slams, but instead will appear on boxes of other General Mills cereals and snacks.

Ami Miesner, assistant marketing manager for Golden Grahams, said the CD-ROM, priced at $12.99, pits the Big G team of characters -- including the Honey Nut Cheerios bee, Count Chocula and the Lucky Charms Leprechaun -- against teams made up of pro baseball players. The game, created by BrandGames, is aimed primarily at 6-to-9-year-olds.

TARGETS YOUNG FANS

"It's a fun way for kids to interact with Major League Baseball and recruit their own teams and players," Ms. Miesner said.

Under the direction of MLB Properties President Bob Gamgort, the league has developed a strategy to attract younger fans and has been pursuing sponsorship deals with marketers who target kids.

Returning this season are Hershey Foods Corp.'s Twizzlers licorice, with three upcoming promotions, and Nabisco Foods' Bubble Yum brand, reportedly planning a national bubble-blowing contest and a number of grass-roots programs.

Contributing: Kate Maddox.

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