Stonyfield Farm, Londonderry, N.H., claims there are two things in life you can always count on: parents think their babies are beautiful, and everyone’s a sucker for a beauty contest.

With that in mind, the company recently ran a contest to choose a new baby supermodel for its line of specially-formulated yogurt products for babies and toddlers. Stonyfield ended up choosing all six finalists after more than 80,000 votes were cast on the company’s Web site.

Meanwhile, Velvet Ice Cream, Utica, Ohio, has for the past two years run special promotions in which it has given away an overnight stay at one of several historic Ohio inns. The on-label campaigns were so successful that the company is now developing other giveaway promotions. And in California, Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream believes there is nothing like a block party with ice cream to get Americans to talk to their neighbors more often. This summer the company will supply the ice cream to 1,500 winners who can tell the company why their neighborhood deserves to be saluted.

"A sweepstakes, game or contest excites consumers, offering drama, suspense, and prizes. They keep your brand in mind as they await the announcement of winners," says Luconda Dager, vice president of marketing and sales at Velvet Ice Cream.

"They start to form a bond with your brand if they didn't already have one, or an already-existing bond is strengthened."

Just last week Stonyfield conducted a photo shoot with the six winning babies and toddlers from the company's nationwide "YoBaby Cover Baby Contest." Each of the winners received a $5,000 saving bond and their families were flown to Boston from across the country for the event.

"It was the most joyful promotion we've ever done," said Cathleen Toomey, v.p. of communications for Stonyfield. "It was families inviting us in and allowing us to be close the there most beloved family members."

The contest was instigated by the company's loyal consumers, Toomey said and while it might have helped boost sales, more than anything it built onto the relationship with those customers.

"Ever since we first introduced YoBaby we've gotten more and more pictures from parents of their babies eating yogurt. It's obvious that they have so much love for their children and that they love giving them yogurt."

The company also has a Baby Babble Blog on its website where employees post discussions about parenting.

Dreyer's recently conducted a consumer study which found that many American consumers feel they do not talk to their neighbors as much as they would like or as much as neighbors would have 20 years ago.

The company's Two Scoop Neighborhood Salute is designed to not only break the ice with neighbors but to promote the Dreyer's already hot-selling Slow Churned Ice Cream.