(Taken from www.juanvaldez.com)
In 1959, the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia selected the advertising agency Doyle Dane Bernbach to launch a campaign for Colombian Coffee. The agency then created the fictitious character Juan Valdez, to symbolize and personify the more than 560,000 hardworking and dedicated Colombian "cafeteros" (coffee farmers) that depend on coffee for their livelihood, and are part of the Federation.
In 1969, Carlos Sánchez of Medellín, Colombia, was chosen to replace José F. Duval, a New York based actor, who had until then portrayed Juan Valdez. Mr. Sánchez has been Juan ever since.******
There used to be hilarious commercials, here in the US that had Juan and his donkey in the aisles of supermarkets, following shoppers around, and making sure they chose the "right" coffee. They were seriously amongst some of the funniest commercials I have ever seen. And then there were some where people saw him on a train or in their pantry, in the mornings. They were just hilarious.