Cereal Maker, MLB Team Up to Build Brand Recognition

Cereal maker General Mills and Major League Baseball are breaking new ground by using a video game in a joint effort to build brand recognition and raise youngsters' interest in baseball.

Offers for a CD-ROM baseball game that pits characters from General Mills' Big G cereals, such as Trix, Count Chocula and Lucky Charms, against any of the 30 major league teams will appear on 33 million cereal boxes that hit stores at the end of April. The Big G All Stars CD-ROM, which retails for $42, will cost $12.99 with proofs of purchase from 12 Big G cereal and snack packages.

The animated CD-ROM, produced by interactive marketing company BrandGames, New York, is intended to increase recognition by keeping children in contact with the brand for extended periods. A 1996 study revealed that 96 percent of students who played a branded Pizza Hut game retained positive brand recognition.

“This is a great deal for kids, and it's exciting to have them interact with the characters — especially with computers becoming more popular as well as computer games,'' said Ami Meisner, manager of Big G character equities.

According to research by IDC/Link, 52 million homes will have personal computers this year, projected to 62 million by 2000, making CD-ROMs a marketing medium with significant reach.

“General Mills and Major League Baseball, by going with this project, have confirmed that video games are a medium that is important to their target audience,'' said Jim Wexler, BrandGames' vice president of marketing.

Video games are the No. 1 use for personal computers for under-25s.

The Big G All Stars CD-ROM, designed for children ages 6 to 9, is the second branded video game available by direct mail from BrandGames. Last year, it created a branded game for Chef Boyardee's reintroduced ABCs pasta line. BrandGames created an animated character, Alpha Bee, that helped young people master the alphabet and elementary reading.

Big G All Stars has been designed for children, making it easy to hit, pitch and steal. Major League Baseball likes the exposure to baseball the game provides for youngsters.

“We hope this sends a signal to marketers,'' said Richard White, general manager of licensing for the MLB Players Association. “It's encouraging that one of the top kid marketers is choosing baseball as a platform to reach kids.''

Wexler said branded games can be customized by content and level of sophistication and produced at a low price (about $1 per disk) to reach any marketer's specific audience. Games also appeal to adults, as BrandGames has shown with its animated convention presentations for Pepsi and Gordon's Gin.

“Marketers are now recognizing the value of this stuff; 1998 should be a year that confirms for marketers everywhere the viability of games,” Wexler said. “We have more to come.''

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