Long before the term "multicultural marketing" became part of our business lexicon, Pepsi-Cola Co. was putting it into practice.
Seeking to put Pepsi-Cola ahead of archival Coca-Cola among African American consumers back in the 1940's Pepsi President Walter S. Mack hired a team of black salesman to travel the nation, visiting black churches, school, colleges, businesses and professional organizations.
Under the leadership of Edward F. Boyd, the team also developed a print marketing campaign that featured African American as Middle-class consumers. This was a groundbreaking approach in an era when black Americans were routinely saddled with negative stereotypes.
In all, Boyd launched three major multicultural press campaigns from 1948 to 1951. One of them featured about 20 prominent African American leaders, including United Nations diplomat Ralph Bunche and acclaimed photographer Gordon Parks. The team's experiences are related in the book The Real Pepsi Challenge.
Sadly, the team was disbanded after Walter Mack left the company and was replaced by a former Coca-Cola...