Juan Valdez calls on Portland firm for a makeover

Juan Valdez calls on Portland firm for a makeover


PORTLAND — A year ago, Carlos Castaneda, a “cafetero,” or coffee farmer, stepped forward to be an up-dated version of the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia’s Juan Valdez.

Castaneda will take over the role from an aging New York actor who has played the part since the growers first came up with the concept in 1959. Why the change? A week at “character camp” with a Portland-based company convinced executives that Juan needed a bracing shot of reality.

Character, a firm established in 2002 by Will Vinton Studios alum David Altschul, develops story frameworks for brands.

Altschul, who has also worked with Cheerios, Chick-fil-A and Wal-Mart, says the idea of treating a brand like a character is catching on.

“There’s something special about appearing in front of large global mar-keters as a small Oregon business,” says Altschul. And, as Portlanders, you  can bet they know their coffee.