From Gerber Foods to Michelin tires, babies make great pitchmen. Ivory Soap has been using chubby-cheeked cherubs since the late 19th century.
Now there's a nationwide cattle call (or "kiddie call") to find the next Ivory Baby. The Early Show reports Wednesday.
Hundreds of hopeful parents schlepped their little angels to a New York photo studio, trying to catch the eye of casting directors. If the kids won't sing their own praises, their parents will. But, as with any professional model, looks aren't everything.
"We look for kids with great personalities, and easy disposition, a great face, big expressive eyes, a good smile," says Andrea Pendas, the Ford Agency's child model director. "Just a child that has a calm, easy, beautiful outlook on life."
Clearly, not all the babies were ready for their close-ups. Some seemed bored by the whole idea. But, every once in a great while, a star is born.
Seven-month-old Jeremy Zorek did more than take a cute picture. He brought the house down.
"This is a really special baby," says Pendas. "He has a great big face, and he's happy in front of the camera."
"This is the kind of stuff he does," says Michael Zorek, Jeremy's father. "Anyone who gets down with him, he'll just smile."
In fact, Ford Models signed Jeremy that day to an exclusive contract. Two weeks later, he was in front of the camera for his first paying gig, a $75-an-hour shoot for Scholastic magazine's Web site.
"I kid you not: Within eight hours of his being born, I knew he had the temperament for it," Zorek says.
He says Jeremy is not exploited, because his baby is having fun — playing with the cast and crew.
From the outside, baby modeling looks like fun. The child can also make some extra money. However, parents and children do expend energy and effort to obtain the next modeling gig.
"You're gonna go on a lot of casting calls," says Dawn Wolf, producer of baby ads. "We casted for two day … we saw 600 kids in two days and we cast 50 of those kids. And these parents do this two to three times a day, three days a week. That's a lot of running around, a lot of locations, and you have to pull your kids out of school."
Most parents say they're just looking for help with the college fund. A well-connected baby model can make between $5,000 and $30,000 a year. They can make more if they get television work. But Zorek insists he won't turn into a stage fathers.
"If he gets to be a year and half, two years old, and it's something he doesn't want to do, we won't do it," says Zorek. "If this is the only job he ever does, then we've done that - if there's more down the road, then great."
Success stories like Jeremy's are the exception, not the rule, but there's still time to enter Ivory's Baby Search Contest, and possibly win a grand prize $50,000 scholarship or first prize $10,000 scholarship.