Toucan Sam will allow other birds to glide through the friendly skies after a legal dispute between Froot Loops maker Kellogg and San Ramon-based Maya Archeology Initiative (MAI) was settled. Over the summer, the cereal giant claimed that the MAI logo featuring a toucan image diluted the value of its Froot Loops mascot Toucan Sam because the two could be confused.
Last week, however, Kellogg agreed to allow MAI to use its toucan logo and has since become "a strong support of MAI's work and goals." Kellogg executives have also pledged a $100,000 contribution to help launch one of MAI's priority projects -- a cultural center in rural Guatemala near the eastern border with Belize.
"Kellogg's important contribution to the Maya Archaeology Initiative will help us achieve our goal of building a Maya Cultural Center in Peten, the cradle of Maya history, so children, families and visitors can learn about the Maya and their rich heritage," said MAI President Dr. Francisco Estrada-Belli.
The contribution and resulting cultural center will help improve the lives of the Maya people in a region that lacks access to education or economic opportunities, a MAI release read. In addition, Kellogg has also pledged to provide space on the back of one million Froot Loops cereal boxes next year to help educate American children and their parents about the Maya culture.
"We are pleased to support the MAI in its mission to protect and extend the rich history and culture of Mayan people," said Tim Knowlton, Kellogg's vice president of corporate social responsibility. "The Cultural Center promises to be a source of inspiration, pride and learning throughout the region."
What began as a trademark disagreement blossomed into a question of cultural sensitivity. MAI alleged that Kellogg's Froot Loops computer game s are objectionable and blatantly racist.
"The only character of color that is remotely Mayan is a witch doctor that scares the children and steals from them," MAI's Sam Haswell said in August. Kellogg removed the game from its website shortly after MAI's objection, he added.