SAN ANTONIO – Television star Teri Hatcher will serve as the celebrity spokesperson for the Grain Foods Foundation for the group’s spring 2011 campaign. Ms. Hatcher’s involvement with G.F.F. was announced in a presentation during the group’s annual membership meeting.

Breck Barton, co-chairman of the Grain Foods Foundation, moderated the annual meeting, which was held March 27 during the annual meeting of the board of governors of the American Bakers Association. The A.B.A. annual meeting was held March 27-30 at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country resort in San Antonio.

Kristin Patterson, vice-president and account director at Mullen, said Ms. Hatcher will work with the Grain Foods Foundation in its partnership with Share Our Strength, a charity devoted to ending hunger for children by 2015. The Grain Foods Foundation is donating $1 to Share our Strength for each piece of bread art created on the group’s web site.

Ms. Patterson said details of Ms. Hatcher’s involvement with the foundation still was being finalized but that she will participate in the launch of the spring campaign with a media event already scheduled for Los Angeles.

The G.F.F. has worked with a series of celebrities over the last several years to help draw attention to its campaigns promoting grain-based foods. Its most recent campaign featured celebrity chefs, brothers Jamie and Bobby Deen. The foundation’s first such partnership several years ago was with former Miss USA Susie Castillo.
Ms. Hatcher has starred in the ABC television show “Desperate Housewives” since 2005. During the 1990s she played Lois Lane on the ABC comedy-drama series “Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.” Her television career also featured a series of guest appearances on Seinfeld.

Ms. Patterson said the spring campaign again will focus on attracting bloggers, and in her presentation at the annual meeting, she emphasized for the bakers the exploding growth and critical importance of social networking to the foundation’s efforts. She noted Facebook has grown to become the most popular Internet web site with more than 500 million active users. She said consumers are spending 700 billion minutes per month on the site, 57% of whom are female. The percentage of Facebook users 35 and older has grown to 30%.

Emphasizing how central Facebook has become in the lives of millions, she said 28% of 18-34 year old users check their page each morning before getting out of bed.

Against this backdrop, Ms. Patterson said the G.F.F. has a clear mantra – information must be shareable, ongoing, interactive and participatory.

Judi Adams, president of the G.F.F., reviewed work of the group’s scientific advisory board centered on issues management, rapid response and proactive work. Among several issues the organization has taken on, Ms. Adams said gluten-free dieting ranks high.

“Many people are interested in gluten-free eating without any medical reason,” she said.

Data suggest about 7% of the public either is gluten sensitive or suffers from celiac disease, she said. Because nearly 20% of consumers are looking for gluten-free options, Ms. Adams said it is important for the G.F.F. to work to manage the issue.

Looming on the horizon for the industry is the Dukan diet from France, which has gained popularity in Europe, Ms. Adams said. Based on concepts popularized by Robert Atkins, the Dukan diet book is due for release in English in mid-April.

“It promotes low-fat proteins,” she said. “We may take some pleasure in the fact that the Atkins people are condemning the Dukan diet, a case of strange bedfellows.”

Jennifer Geiger of Mullen reviewed the 2010 sandwich night promotion, noting the campaign generated 155 million impressions, driving strong traffic to Facebook.