Kellogg Settles Toucan Trademark Dispute With Mayan Archaeology Group
from the snatching-graceful-defeat-from-the-jaws-of-thuggish-victory dept
Boilersrock sends in the news that a settlement has been reached between Kellogg (maker of fine breakfast products) and the Mayan Archaeology Initiative (entirely unrelated to breakfast products). As you may recall (and this link will certainly help), Kellogg took issue with MAI’s use of a toucan in its logo, despite the fact that MAI’s toucan resembled an actual toucan rather than an overly animated cereal pusher. Kellogg also laid claim to Mayan imagery, apparently based on the fact that its website included a horribly insensitive witch doctor caricature.
Fast-forward a few months and it appears that, against all odds, cooler heads and common sense have prevailed. Kellogg has dropped the claim against MAI and has made some serious strides towards rehabilitating its image:
Battle Creek-based Kellogg Co. is satisfied that its trademarked Toucan Sam character isn’t in danger, and the San Ramon, Calif.-based Maya Archaeology Initiative can keep using its own toucan logo. What’s more, Kellogg is making a $100,000 contribution to cover a major part of the cost of building the MAI’s long-planned Maya cultural center in Petén, a district in Guatemala, said MAI spokesperson Sam Haswell.
Not bad for a couple of months of talks that began with the MAI staring down the barrel of a multinational corporation’s nastygram. Not only will MAI receive $100,000 but Kellogg has made some strides to clean up its online image as well, beginning with the removal of the offending witch doctor and its accompanying imagery from its website:
In early September, Fox News Latino reported that the early exchanges between MAI and Kellogg had prompted the company to rethink how Mayan culture was portrayed in a Froot Loops-related online adventure game, which subsequently was removed from Kellogg’s website, according to latino.foxnews.com.
“MAI raised some points about the cultural sensitivity of one of our marketing executions that we hadn’t considered,” Fox News Latino quoted Charles as saying. “As a company long committed to diversity and inclusion and responsible marketing, Kellogg takes this concern very seriously.”
It appears that Kellogg realized what kind of a PR nightmare it had just unleashed by issuing the cease-and-desist as its efforts didn’t end with $100K and some website scrubbing:
“After conversations with MAI to better understand how they intend to use this design, we worked with them to identify an approach to revise their trademark application that will enable them to continue using their logo for their not-for-profit fundraising efforts,” said Kris Charles, Kellogg’s vice president for global communications and philanthropy, in an email to the Battle Creek Enquirer.
Kellogg also will help promote the MAI’s work — and website — on Froot Loops cereal boxes next year, in presentations that also will feature Mayan accomplishments.
While Kellogg is obviously regreting its decision to pursue a claim against a non-profit organization, it looks like being on the receiving end of a C & D just might be one of the best things that has happened to the Mayan Archaeology Initiative.