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Parents To Get Tips on Education on Cereal Boxes

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Those elfin guys from the breakfast table--Snap!, Crackle!, and Pop!--are making noise about something other than the sound of their cereal these days.

Their creator, the Kellogg Co., has decided to use the back of cereal boxes--long believed to be a highly effective advertising tool--to sell parents on the importance of learning in the early years.

Through next month, more than 20 million boxes of Rice Krispies, one of Kellogg's five best-selling brands, will feature simple suggestions about how to promote healthy emotional and intellectual development.

The tips, which stress that learning can occur during ordinary activities, have been prepared by Zero to Three, a research organization based in Washington that focuses on the needs of infants and toddlers.

Written from a baby's perspective, one of the messages urges mothers to be talkative.

"When you explain to me what you are doing, I learn how actions connect to words," it reads.

The boxes also list Zero to Three's World Wide Web address, www.zerotothree.org so parents can get more detailed information.

Charting Growth

And if consumers still want to get something in exchange for their boxtops, they can send in one, plus $2.25, to get a 5-foot-tall growth chart to mark their child's developmental milestones.

A portion of the proceeds from sales of the chart will be donated to Zero to Three.

Matthew E. Melmed, the executive director of Zero to Three, in a written statement called the Kellogg project "a standard for corporate public involvement on behalf of babies and toddlers and their families."

Arnold G. Langbo, the chairman and chief executive officer at Kellogg, first announced the cereal-box campaign at a White House conference last spring that focused on brain development in infants and young children. ("Clinton Announces 5 Child-Care, Early-Years Initiatives," April 23, 1997.)

With its separate Learning Now program, Kellogg has already used a variety of channels, such as direct mail, print and broadcast advertising, and seminars, to deliver the same messages to local parents and child-care providers in Battle Creek, Mich., where the company is based.

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