You would think that Juan Valdez - the coffee advertising icon - was property of some gringo advertising agency or multi-national. The character seems straight out of the Speedy Gonzalez house of stereotypes.
Surprise, surprise, surprise, Juan Valdez is actually the intellectual property of Colombia's coffee growers federation. And they have used the image in much of the same way that Chef Boyardee - the actual Italian-born chef who started that company - to maintain and expand its brand recognition in the market.
This is typical of the long-term view of the Federacion Nacional de Cafeteros Colombianosthat has skillfully and prudently guided Colombia's coffee export policies since 1927. Representing small and large coffee growers, it has stricly enforced quality controls, assisted smaller growers with technology and credit, and commercialized the product abroad. In this case, they are re-launching Juan Valdez as part of their marketing efforts to bolster Colombian coffee revenues, which have fallen.
In the end, this is the essence of "good" globalization, you adapt to the rules of the international marketplace, using up to date methods, while maintaining your unique charcter. Key sectors of an export-oriented economy can organize and pool their resources efficiently to benefit all the members of their industry. These self-interested actions have the unintended effect of helping their countries, which is the point of Capitalism. And it shows that, instead of the self-serving protectionist oligarchs, organizations of local industries can be succesful, modern, global actors.
The new Juan Valdez
Colombia's new Juan Valdez, the country's international coffee pitchman, is an actual coffee farmer, unlike his predecessors.
BY SERGIO DE LEON
BOGOTA - After a two-year search among more than 300,000 candidates nationwide, Colombia on Thursday unveiled the new Juan Valdez, the country's iconic coffee ambassador to the world.
His real name is Carlos Castañeda. Like his two predecessors, the 39-year-old sports the leather bag, bushy mustache and straw hat typical of rural Colombia where the world-famous arabica coffee is grown.
But unlike those other Valdezes -- who were played by a Cuban-born actor and a silk-screen artisan -- Castañeda knows a thing or two about growing coffee. The oldest of 10 children born on a coffee farm, he picked his first bean at the age of 6.
Read the Rest of The Story in the Miami Herald here.