General Mills to Market to AOL Users

Consumer foods company General Mills joined the pack of big-name offline advertisers launching marketing initiatives with America Online.

The firms Wednesday announced a multi-year alliance, under which the companies will implement a series of consumer marketing programs across AOL’s properties, which include AOL, AOL.com, CompuServe, Netscape Netcenter and Digital City.

The pact allies one of the world’s leading consumer packaged goods companies with the largest online service by membership. Through the agreement, the companies will develop promotional marketing programs centered around General Mills brands, aimed at members of and visitors to AOL’s properties.

One of the first products of the deal will be a contest in which AOL users can enter to win an “ultimate party” for friends and family from Chex Party Mix and Chex Cereal.

“We’re delighted to be working with America Online to develop the kinds of innovative promotions and offers that will enable General Mills to reach AOL’s members nationwide,” said General Mills vice president Mark Addicks. “As we find our consumers spending more time online, we look forward to working with America Online to reach them with information that is relevant and timely, offering a wide variety of promotions and other online opportunities.”

General Mills is one of the world’s largest manufacturers and marketers of consumer foods products, with sales topping $6 billion annually. Its major U.S. businesses include Big G cereals, Betty Crocker dinner and dessert mixes, Gold Medal flour and Yoplait yogurt.

Recent offline AOL marketing deals include agreements with Princess Cruises, Unilever, Six Flags amusement parks and Coca-Cola. Earlier on Wednesday, AOL announced a pact with Charles Schwab & Co., to feature the brokerage’s online tools in its properties’ personal finance sections.

“General Mills clearly recognizes the power of online marketing, and this new relationship will enable us to work with them on a variety of innovative programs and promotions to help them bring information on their products to our more than 25 million members,” said AOL interactive marketing president Myer Berlow.

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