Published on .

March 21, 2001

By Stephanie Thompson and Laura Petrecca

As Opening Day approaches, Kraft Foods' Post Cereals and Radio Shack Corp. are readying their first Major League Baseball-themed ad efforts.

Kraft's Post cereal unit -- which earlier this year signed a

Official breakfast cereal of the major league.
one-year deal as official breakfast cereal of the league as well as an agreement with the MLB Player's Association -- will launch a kid-targeted ad blitz in April. An adult effort follows beginning in late June. Both promotions offer free Topps trading cards. Meanwhile, Radio Shack will break its campaign featuring superstar shortstop Alex Rodriguez and a Hispanic female counterpart in May. Radio Shack did not disclose spending on the effort.

Strongest support ever
Support for the MLB program is some of the strongest ever behind a major Post promotion largely because MLB has "wonderful appeal among our core consumers, households with kids," and shares the all-American values, good wholesome fun and quality family time reflected in the Post brand, said Eric Greifenberger, category business director for Post Kids.

More than 30 million boxes of Post cereals will feature cutout windows that display one of the two free Topps trading cards inside. Three kid-targeted TV spots, from WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, Los Angeles and New York, will break the first week of April and run through early June. The ads will humorously depict what kids will do to get their hands on one of the 18 baseball cards inside 10 Post Kids' cereals. Print ads break in May issues of publications such as Time Inc.'s Sports Illustrated for Kids and DC Comics.

Eight free cards
In late June, Kraft, a Philip Morris unit, will reach out to adults with print ads touting eight free cards featuring Hall of Famers

Hot collectibles from Topps.
including Reggie Jackson and Babe Ruth inside cereal boxes.

For Radio Shack's deal with MLB, the electronics retailer will activate local promotions with players as well as have title-sponsorship rights at MLB events. The company is title sponsor of the April 1 season opener in Puerto Rico.

Radio Shack's TV spots with Mr. Rodriguez will be similar to the current Radio Shack campaign that features former football star Howie Long and actress Teri Hatcher bantering back and forth. In-house agency Circle R Group, Fort Worth, Texas, will do the ads.

Global reach
John Brody, MLB director of corporate sales and marketing, said the global reach of baseball is a key element in not only attracting new sponsors but in also retaining existing ones. "We're a brand that has embraced globalization much faster than others," he said, pointing out the league's many efforts toward fan and player diversity, including the staging of last year's Opening Day in Japan.

This year's game in Puerto Rico is the third season that MLB has opened outside the continental U.S. and Canada. More than 20% of major and minor league baseball players were born outside the U.S., Mr. Brody added.

Copyright March 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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