Written by Gary J. Arzt

Monday, 02 February 2009

User Rating: / 1


I had a conversation the other day with Rene Castaneda, Nat'l Sales Manager/Managing Director of Miami Cigar & Company. We were talking about the "face of a brand." Contrary to what many may think, this was not invented by cigar makers. Yes, many of them have done it very well; and I refer to the ones that have appeared in the advertising for their cigars - not just at in store events.

It got me thinking about whom was the first 'face of a brand,' long before the Fuentes, father and son, appeared in an ad, or Rocky Patel, Christian Eiroa or Eddie Ortega and Erik Espinosa, Pepin and Jamie Garcia, Ernesto Perez Carrillo, Ernesto Padilla.


Even Nestor Miranda has joined the fray in the new ad for the Nestor Miranda Special Selection being made by Tabacalera Garcia - ergo, Pepin is in the ad as well - a double whammy.

I could have googled it, but I preferred to cogitate on the question. A number of names/products came to mind and I assembled them in something of a time line, which, while not complete, gives a sense of how far back the concept goes.

- Thomas Alva Edison - Edison Electric Company
- Colonel Sanders    - Kentucky Fried Chicken
- Lee Iacocca - Chrysler Corporation
- Robert Townsend - Avis
- Frank Perdue - Perdue Chicken
Perdue has even been succeeded by his son Jimmy!

There have been many, many others as the concept caught on. In the cigar industry it has worked because cigar makers/owners have become celebrities; minor celebrities, surely, in the universe of celebrity. There have also been occasional appearances in television ads by the likes of Bill Ford, of the eponymous automobile company and Don Tyson of, the likewise, eponymous Tyson Foods. I suppose I shouldn't' omit Preston Tucker of the short lived Tucker automobile...who did appear in newspaper ads for the car. But nowhere has it been used more consistently than in the cigar industry. And like many advertising concepts, it gets over used, in general, and the 'cigar stars' get over exposed to the point where it is reminiscent of Mao Tse Tung's China and what was referred to as "the cult of the personality."

You can decide who's who and what's what.

Our conversation then moved on to Miami Cigar & Company's 20th Anniversary. According to Rene, they have some impressive plans, not to celebrate the past; rather to commemorate it and celebrate their plans for the next twenty (20) years. Look for some major cigar events!

I was over at Puros Indios the other day at the behest of Frank Santos. The patriarch was in from Honduras, so it was a particularly interesting couple of hours. I asked Alex Llaneza to join me - actually  he was driving - and he very much enjoyed it.

We sampled a new blend; saw the changes Carlos Diez, Jose Ortega, Frank and Henry Diez are endeavouring to make, both in the physical premises as well as the blends.

They deserve more credit then they are getting for the "Reyes Family" cigars and the changes in branding and packaging they have already achieved.

Believe me, it is an achievement beyond anything anyone can imagine, as they are doing it in the face of bucking everything the 90+ year old patriarch, Rolando Reyes, Sr. knows and believes. And if he knows it; it is the only thing to know. Case closed!

Nonetheless, I know these guys are bringing Puros Indios into the 21st century.

Outsourcing is hardly a new phenomena...the first occurred during the American Revolution when the British hired Hessian mercenaries to fight the colonists.

In point of fact, cigar manufacturing in the United States was the first domestic industry destroyed by outsourcing!


0 # What a GuyJose Blanco 2009-02-02 21:54
;-) Wish the industry would have more people like Gary, guess some people have other opinions, but he calls them the way he sees them, keep going Gary.:D

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