Meanwhile Pepsi, the country’s second largest soft drink company, had tried to fight Coke by selling its sweeter product in a larger bottle for the same price. Still behind in 1940, Pepsi’s liberal chief executive, Walter S. Mack, tried a new approach: he hired a team of 12 African-American men to create a “negro markets” department.
By the late 1940s, black sales representatives worked the Southern Black Belt and Northern black urban areas, black fashion models appeared in Pepsi ads in black publications, and special point-of-purchase displays appeared in stores patronized by African-Americans. The company hired Duke Ellington as a spokesman. Some employees even circulated racist public statements by Robert W. Woodruff, Coke’s president.
The campaign was so successful that many Americans began using a racial epithet to describe Pepsi. By 1950, fearing a backlash by white consumers, Pepsi had killed the program, but the image of Coke and Pepsi as “white” and “black” drinks lingered.
I will conquer them…some day.
“It was Pepsi vs Coke, and they spent millions upon millions going after each other in commercials. There were some strategic missteps - Michael Jackson’s hair catching fire while shooting a Pepsi commercial, Coke introducing the widely-hated New Coke - but in the end it feels like the Cola Wars left everything pretty much where they were. Coke remains dominant, with Pepsi coming in third (after Diet Coke). All that horror, for what?”
Proud to be…uh…something.
“I benefit from the exploitation of others, we all do. And I think this style of journalism actually hurts awareness of that. The laser-tight focus on Apple means that people who don’t use Apple products, or who only have one or two, might not realize that the rest of their technology is compromised, too. PlayStation 2s used to use coltan, and there was a long-lasting violent conflict over the rights to mine and control that metal in the Congo. While I was traipsing around a virtual world, somebody my age on the other side of the world was working his fingers to the bone.”