After featuring nearly a dozen little brand ambassadors as the face of its baby food and other early childhood nutrition products, Gerber announced on Friday it had selected the first adopted “spokesbaby” in the company’s 92-year history.
The baby, Magnolia Earl of Ross, Calif., was selected from among more than 327,000 entries submitted to the Gerber website, where families uploaded photos and videos and shared stories for the company’s annual Photo Search contest.
Magnolia, who turned 1 on Saturday, “captured the hearts of the judging panel with her joyful expression, playful smile and warm, engaging gaze,” the company said in a statement. She will be featured in social media and marketing campaigns throughout the year.
The Earl family was awarded $25,000 and other prizes, including baby clothes and phones with one year of unlimited service.
“Magnolia has brought so much joy to everyone she meets,” Courtney Earl, Magnolia’s mother, said in the statement. “Her personality is beyond happy and joyful.”
Ms. Earl recalled the moment last year when the family received a call about a mother in labor who wanted to talk.
“We pulled off the highway, got a chance to connect with her amazing birth parents, and a few hours later, this sweet baby girl was born,” she said. “Adoption is incredibly special to our family’s story. Winning Photo Search is an opportunity to tell Magnolia’s story and shed light on all the beautiful and different ways families are made.”
Magnolia has two older sisters, Whitney, 12, and Charlotte, 8, who is also adopted.
Started in 2010, the contest is inspired by the photos Gerber has received over the years from people who say they see their babies in the brand’s famous original logo.
The contest celebrates babies from all backgrounds, the company said, proving that “every baby is a Gerber Baby.”
Kimberly A. Taylor, an associate professor of marketing and logistics at Florida International University, said the photo contest had helped the brand grow and stay relevant.
“This has allowed them not only to enhance consumer involvement and build closer ties within the Gerber brand community, but has also allowed them to showcase greater diversity within this iconic brand,” Professor Taylor said on Saturday.
“The Gerber baby is one of the most recognizable and long-lasting brand images,” she added. “Baby faces almost universally produce warm, loving feelings in anyone who sees them; seeing a baby makes people smile and brings out a feeling of caring.”
In 1928, shortly after Gerber was founded in Fremont, Mich., the company put out a call looking for a baby to feature in its ads.
A Connecticut artist named Dorothy Hope Smith submitted a charcoal sketch of her neighbor’s 4-month-old baby, according to the company.
The sketch of the cherubic baby with big, round eyes and an open mouth endeared judges, who picked the infant as the winner. In 1978, Ann Turner Cook, now a retired English teacher, was revealed to be the subject of the sketch.
The image, which became the company’s official trademark in 1931, continues to be associated with the brand. In November, the company celebrated Ms. Cook’s 93rd birthday on social media.
“Happy Birthday to the original Gerber baby!” the company said.