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 Advertising Mascots - People

Juan Valdez - Fictitious mustachioed representative for the National Federation of Coffee Growers (founded in 1926) who roams the lush green Colombian rainforests in search of the finest grown coffee beans.

 Logo of Juan Valdez, his burro Lana and the Andes Mountains

Created in 1959, Juan Valdez wears a traditional peasant garb (large brim hat, sombrero and pancho) and leads around Lana, his faithful burro who is loaded down with sacks of coffee beans.

In the early commercials, Juan was seen in the coffee fields hand-picking the beans at the moment of prime ripeness. Juan's constant search for the best coffee beans personifies the many hard-working Colombian "cafeteros" (coffee farmers) that depend on coffee for their livelihood.

The Juan Valdez ad campaign was created by New York-based Doyle Dane Berbach agency (which later merged with Chicago-based Needham Harper Steers to become DDB Needham Worldwide Advertising).

José F. Duval, a New York based actor played the role of Juan Valdez until 1969 when he was replaced by Carlos Sánchez of Medellín, Colombia, a farmer born in Fredonia, a small town near the largest coffee producing region of Colombia, Antioquia.

In the 1980s, the Juan Valdez campaign used images of Rolls Royce cars, luxury ocean liners and castles to lure "Generation X" away form the hip coffee houses. In the 1990s the "Grab Life by the Beans" campaign featured Valdez surfing, snowboarding and even hang-gliding with his burro.

At the beginning of the Millennium, the Juan Valdez character (inactive for a couple of years because Colombian government cutbacks forced the federation to reduce its advertising activities and retire Mr. Valdez) starred in a series of upbeat advertisements (People, Us Weekly, Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone and Premiere magazines) as a means of boosting dwindling coffee sales worldwide.

In September 2000, Colombian President Andres Pastrana awarded Juan Valdez (Carlos Sánchez) a silver cross for national merit on his 40th birthday at a ceremony in the presidential palace in Bogato (Lana the burro remained downstairs during the ceremony).

On December 14, 2002, The National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia opened its first "Juan Valdez" Coffee shop in the Bogota airport. The newly elected Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and Juan Valdez, representing Colombia's coffee growers were its first honorary customers.

In 2003, Juan Valdez made a cameo appearance in the film Bruce Almighty starring Jim Carrey in which he pours the lead character a cup of coffee.

Carlos Sanchez, who played the role of Juan Valdez since 1969, retired in 2006. The hunt for a new actor to continue the Juan Valdez legacy began soon after.

TRIVIA NOTE: Coffee brands displaying the Juan Valdez logo are guaranteed by the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia to have been made entirely from 100% Colombian Coffee - "the richest coffee in the world." The coffee brand may be guaranteed for quality, but they can't guarantee that people will make fun of their product, like the mischievous sentiment "Juan Valdez Drinks Tea" seen occasionally on bumper stickers and subways walls or the internet inspired revelation "Juan and his donkey weren't just harvesting coffee up there. They fell in to the wrong side of a cartel war and haven't been seen since." Juan Valdez's burro, Lana has also been called "Conchita."

For more information about coffee read: The Colombian Coffee Book: How Juan Valdez Became a Household Name by David Desmith (Glen Park Press, 1999) See also - El Exigente

"We don't know who's more stubborn
 -- Juan Valdez or his burro"

  --1960 newspaper ad copy

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