After nearly 85 years, Gerber, the ubiquitous baby food and products brand, has introduced a new Gerber Baby. And in a cultural shift that speaks volumes about the changing face of America, the new Gerber Baby is Latina.
Mary Jane Montoya, an 8-month-old baby girl from Fresno, California, is the new face of Gerber. Montoya was the winner of Gerber’s Facebook contest to find a new baby to represent the brand, and she was chosen from more than 300,000 entrants. Her parents, Sara and Billy Montoya, plan to use the $50,000 prize money for Mary Jane’s college education.
Mary Jane will not replace the original Gerber Baby, Ann Turner Cook, now 85, whose cherubic baby face still graces all the brand’s packaging. Instead, Mary Jane will represent the company’s 2013 Start Healthy, Stay Healthy™ Nutrition System ad campaign and Turner Cook’s bright-eyed baby face will remain the brand’s iconic image.
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In a press release announcing the contest winner, Gerber makes no mention of Mary Jane’s ethnicity. But it’s a fact that can’t be lost on marketing experts. With Latinos representing the largest and fastest-growing minority in the U.S., and recent talk of Latino voting and buying power—it’s no accident that the most recognized name in baby food and baby products chose a Latina baby to represent the brand. Yet when pressed for comment on the cultural significance of her selection as the new face of Gerber, Mary Jane Montoya was coy, and replied only with a giggle and a wink.