When a Toddler Becomes a Top Ad Star

Upon reviewing hundreds of thousands of the cutest smiles, most adorable poses, and irresistibly squeezable cheeks, Gerber has announced the winner of its Gerber Generation Photo Search! The announcement was made today, Jan. 31.

Two-year-old Mercy Townsend of Toledo, Ohio is the grand prize winner of a $25,000 scholarship and will star in a Gerber print advertisement beginning in May 2011.

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“I didn’t believe it at first,” says Mercy’s mom, Tahisha Williams-Townsend, when she was notified that her daughter had won.

“Our family is ecstatic to see Mercy in a magazine ad and then to receive such a generous scholarship is really awesome. Mercy doesn’t understand the extent of what she’s just won, but she’s excited and goes around saying, ‘thank you, thank you.'”

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At the beginning of the six month online contest, Gerber judges set out to find children from birth to preschool who demonstrate visual appeal, expressiveness and consistency with Gerber’s heritage and its Start Healthy, Stay Healthy mission to nourish a healthier generation one baby at a time.

The child who best fit these criteria would be selected to star in a Gerber Generation advertisement that advocates a healthier future for children through good nutrition. Parents could enter their child by uploading their picture onto Gerber’s website.

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Mercy’s mom entered the contest after seeing it featured on her friend’s Facebook page. She uploaded the winning photo, which was taken right after bath time when Mercy was very happy and her curls were extra full and bouncy.

Mercy’s candid expression and adorable features stood out among more than 217,000 applicants and perfectly represented the healthy-looking, happy-looking child in which the brand was seeking.

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“We are thrilled to have seen such an overwhelming response to the Gerber Generation photo contest,” says Christina Lawrence, VP, Integrated Marketing and Communications, Nestle Infant Nutrition.

“With so many adorable ‘Gerber babies’ to choose from, it was hard for the judges to pick just one. We look forward to working with Mercy, as she will play an important role in helping us communicate our commitment to early childhood nutrition through our successful Gerber Generation marketing campaign.”

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In mid February, Mercy will travel to New York City for her modeling debut photo shoot. How does Mom think she’ll do? “As the youngest of four, Mercy can be shy. But when she hears music she loves to sing and dance – she really gets into it. I can’t wait to see how she does at the photo shoot, I’m sure her personality will really shine through.”

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Nestle Nutrition, part of Nestle S.A., a leading company in nutrition, health and wellness is dedicated to infant, healthcare and performance nutrition, and weight management. Gerber Products Company, founded in 1928, officially joined the Nestle family on Sep. 1, 2007.

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Rakesh Raman