June 2, 2006
Juanted: Coffee Brand Icon. Must Love Donkeys.
I was saddened to read that Juan Valdez is retiring after 37 years as the brand name icon for Columbian Coffee.
The actor who plays Valdez, Carlos Sanchez, claims that his role as the gentle coffee grower has led Columbians to see him “as a flag, a national anthem.”
Sanchez is only the second actor to play the role of Valdez. The first was, ironically, a Cuban man named Jose Duval. The powers that be are looking for a man who can sport a moustache, look good in a poncho and is not afraid of donkeys. Tea drinkers need not apply, I suppose.
Valdez and his donkey (named Conchita) are the main branding symbols of the $10 million annual advertising campaign of the Columbian Coffee Federation. A couple of years ago, the Federation launched a chain of coffee shops under the Valdez brand name designed to compete with the much trendier but less authentic Starbucks.
Gabriel Silva, the president of the Federation, says this about Valdez as a product naming legend: "Think about it this way: In the U.S., companies invest millions of dollars to hire celebrities to represent their brands with no connection with a product. Here it's the contrary. We have a modest coffee grower who is a world celebrity." I have to admit, that’s not bad...except for the fact that Sanchez, a former printer, never grew a bean in his life.
At least one Latino blogger will be glad to see this incarnation of Valdez go, as for many Latinos in the USA, he represents a stereotyped image of Columbians. I’m not sure I agree: the Juan Valdez brand stands for good coffee, not Latino culture.
TrackBack URL for this entry: