Sunscreen and the beach are inseparable in Danielle Erb's mind.
The Tampa native, now 22, remembers family trips to the shore always meant slathering on lotion, covering up in SPF-infused T-shirts and getting her face painted with colorful zinc oxide products. She imagined she was becoming her favorite Disney princess: Pocahontas.
"She drilled (sun protection) into my sister and I," Erb says of her mom and their regular trips to Indian Rocks and other local beaches.
So it's fitting that Erb on Wednesday was named the new face of Hawaiian Tropic sunscreen products. She beat out five other finalists in an online competition that's a departure from the bikini contests for which Hawaiian Tropic is best known.
Erb and four other finalists were selected from more than 3,000 initial applicants and had videos posted on Facebook. Erb earned more than 6,000 votes and won the right to serve as the official brand spokeswoman and appear in Hawaiian Tropic ads. She also gets a vacation for two to Hawaii.
Erb, who played collegiate volleyball at James Madison University for four years, says the more health-conscious approach to this Face of Hawaiian Tropic contest was appealing.
"It wasn't a bikini contest," she says of the new marketing campaign and the company's decision to retire the beauty competitions.
Erb and the other finalists - including a University of Central Florida student - reflected far more wholesome lifestyles for Hawaiian Tropic. They are athletes, outdoor adventurers, even a cowgirl. They represented the kinds of young women being targeted by companies such as Hawaiian Tropic, which has broadened its products from tanning and bronzing to include sun protection and round-the-clock sun care, according to Mintel, a leading retail analyst.
Erb says a lifetime of playing competitive volleyball and other sports has given her confidence, poise and a positive self-image, qualities she wants young girls to see and emulate. Loving how you look should be a reflection of how you treat your body, she says.
"I'm confident in how I look in anything. I love my body, my self and my skin," she says.
The Plant High graduate is interning this summer with a Wisconsin financial services company. But she says she's all Tampa, even joking she was on the sidelines of Tampa Bay Buccaneers games in utero, when her mother, Helen, was pregnant and cheering as a Swash-buc-ler.
Winning the contest might keep Erb away from Tampa for a while. She's looking to start her career in marketing elsewhere, seizing the chance to see other places. But she plans to settle back in Tampa and close to its beaches.
"My heart is in Tampa," she says. "But I want to explore the world right now."