Once a traditional Spanish hillside gathering of white-painted buildings nestled in the Andalusian mountains above Marbella, this tiny village was painted blue in 2011 by Sony Pictures, as a marketing ploy to promote The Smurfs motion picture, but after the contract was up the villagers decided to keep their new hue.
The village of Júzcar was once known as one of the famed White Villages of Andalusia, historic settlements that shared the design motif of white-washed walls and reddish tiled roofs. It was these iconically blank buildings that drew Sony’s marketing wolves to the small village. Initially the citizens were not enthused by the idea of painting the village blue, but by the time the contract and money negotiations had finished, the village council voted a unanimous yes to the stunt. Besides, Sony agreed to re-whitewash the buildings when the promotion ended.
The walls of every building were painted a uniform blue and characters were painted in front of businesses and on signs. The village of Júzcar had been transformed into a real world Smurfville. While the stunt was intended as a short-lived gimmick, when Sony returned in 2012 to repaint everything, they were surprised to find that the residents had voted to keep the new blue hue. The decision was based in large part on the unbelievable upswing in the number of tourists visiting the village since it turned blue. Where once they counted only a few hundred visitors a year, they now welcomed tens of thousands.
Coming upon the village today, rounding the bend after a dizzying (and lengthy) drive into the middle of nowhere is a genuine surprise. Not only are the buildings still blue, but they are still accompanied by the giant murals and portraits of Smurf characters, with statues of The Smurfs also standing on street corners and in the town square.