Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Real Deal

Too much time has passed without a post on this blog. It's been a productive Summer with lots of stories to tell, including many from a trip to Costa Rica. While traveling there, one thing that struck me was the lack of big name brands. Once outside the city of San Jose, we saw few signs for large companies or franchises. No Starbucks, McDonalds, Home Depot, Pepsi or Coke. No FedEx. No Walmart. All visible forms of commerce are local. Signage is almost all hand lettered. It was refreshing not to have the same old slick brands pushed at you all day long.

In Costa Rica, they decided two decades ago not to try and compete with other central and South American and African and Indonesian countries on a commodity and focus on quality. Now they only grow and export high quality Arabica coffee. Talk about positioning.

When we saw the sign for "Don Juan's" coffee plantation in the Monte Verde region, I was skeptical. It looked like a marketing attempt to create a character to promote coffee tours. All I could think of was Juan Valdez, the fictional persona that graces the coffee logo. According to The National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia's website, "The Juan Valdez logo was developed 1981 to identify and serve as a seal of guarantee to the brands that do indeed consist of 100% Colombian Coffee as approved by the Federation."

Turns out Don Juan's is an a real working coffee farm turned tourist attraction, and Don is a real guy -- a living Juan Valdez. There is some slickness to the place, but the experience was educational and the coffee was outstanding.

My son Cole thought Don Juan was so cool, he insisted on having his picture taken with him. I think the attraction was that he was authentic. It's hard to compete with that.

Copyright 2008, Bremmer & Goris Communications, Inc.

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