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The newest face of Gerber is 8-month-old Mary Jane Montoya —a Latina from Fresno, Calif., who loves to eat squash.
Today.com is reporting that Montoya’s parents, Sara and Billy, submitted their firstborn’s photo in the 2012 Gerber Generation Photo Search, a contest launched on Facebook. It attracted over 300,000 contestants during the six week entry period this year. Their parents hoped their child would ultimately represent America’s largest baby food producer in 2013.
In addition to the family receiving a $50,000 cash prize, Montoya will also have the opportunity to be featured in upcoming Gerber ads. The couple plans to place the award into the little girl’s college fund.
“Our baby looks just like the Gerber baby, but we still can’t believe the photo of our baby won the grand prize,” said Sara Montoya. “Like parents everywhere, we think our baby is cute, but to have this honor is something we’ll cherish forever. To us, winning $50,000 is like winning a million dollars!”
A panel of Gerber judges reviewed the numerous entries, ranging from birth to preschool age.
According to the company, the photos submitted for consideration “demonstrated visual appeal, expressiveness and consistency with Gerber’s heritage.”
While Montoya was selected as the grand prize winner, she will not be replacing the original Gerber baby, Ann Turner Cook. Like Montoya, the 1927 sketch of Cook as an infant was submitted in a nationwide contest. Cook won, making her the first Gerber baby in 1928. Then in 1931, the portrait was trademarked. Cook has publicly approved Montoya as the new Gerber baby.
“She is just adorable, and she is a delightful little person,” said the 85-year-old on the TODAY show.
Cathy Abramski, Head of Consumer Communications for Gerber, explained that the contest has garnered awareness on the brand to a new generation.
“We are contacted everyday by moms and dads who have the same question, ‘My baby looks just like the Gerber Baby, how do I get them into your advertising?’ said Abramski in a statement.
“By hosting Photo Search on the Gerber Facebook page, we are providing our fans with the opportunity to see their child in future Gerber advertisements. The response has been overwhelmingly positive.”
Aside from Montoya, six winners were also selected for the “Start Healthy, Stay Healthy,” Milestone campaign for the following categories: Birth+, Supported Sitter, Sitter, Crawler, Toddler and Preschooler. The winners were determined by Facebook fan votes and each will receive a $10,000 Gerber Life College Plan, a program that promotes saving for college with insurance.