Those same words probably echoed in the mind of Edward F. Boyd who is said to be the Jackie Robinson of Corporate America. Pepsi Cola hired Edward Francis Boyd in 1947 — the same year the Brooklyn Dodgers introduced Jackie Robinson as the firest African American to play in the major leagues.
Avoiding Aunt Jemima images, he commissioned ads showing African-Americans as fun-loving middle-class consumers living the American dream. In one ad the small boy shown shopping for Pepsi with his mother was Ron Brown, who would become secretary of commerce.
Mr. Boyd hired some of the first black advertising models, flooded black papers with ads and added new sophistication and prominence to the ads already being published in magazines like Ebony. He created the first point-of-purchase displays aimed at minorities.
His program also included having celebrities like Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton give “shout-outs” for Pepsi from the stage.
Mr. Boyd’s most daring initiative echoed the hiring of Robinson by the Dodgers’ president, Branch Rickey . He assembled a squad of black salesmen to visit bottlers, grocery stores, shoeshine emporia, Elks Clubs, conventions and teachers’ and doctors’ conferences. They were even invited to speak from church pulpits, discreetly not mentioning a certain effervescent liquid.
Blacks were then being lynched in the South, and even in the North, many hotels did not welcome the Pepsi salesmen. Mr. Boyd had them use Pullman sleeping cars on trains so they could eat in their compartments, not segregated dining areas. Mr. Boyd often traveled with his lieutenants, who were better qualified but paid less than their white counterparts at Pepsi. One proud salesman, a Harvard graduate, resigned after being sent to the back of a bus.
His team bolstered Pepsi sales in every area they hit with a marketing blitz. After they visited Chicago, Pepsi overtook Coke there for the first time.
As the son of a barber, Boyd used his singing and dancing skills once used in minor movie roles to market Pepsi to African American market long before most companies came to see the potential of the black consumer.
Edward Boyd who died in 2007 at the age of 92 put doors where only walls had previously existed. Mr. Boyd blazed a trail for many black executives at Pepsi including Maurice Cox.
Maurice Cox is Vice President, Corporate Development & Diversity at Pepsi-Cola Company, a division of PepsiCo, Inc., and is responsible for providing strategic guidance on a range of workplace and marketplace diversity issues that impact the company’s employees and its market performance.
Prior to assuming this position, Cox was Director of Government Affairs for Pepsi-Cola, serving as the company’s chief lobbyist and public policy strategist for all federal, state and local government affairs. He joined the company in 1981 as Manager of Communications.
Before joining Pepsi-Cola, the Dover, NC native was the Assistant Director of Communications for Associated Builders & Contractors, Inc., a Washington, D.C.-based business trade lobbying group and a former editor of Builder & Contractor Magazine. Mr. Cox began his career as a journalist for the Greensboro (NC) Daily News & Record, after earning an economics degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Today, PepsiCo, is a world leader in convenient foods and beverages. Mr. Cox has developed and led many innovative initiatives that integrate diversity performance across business functions thus establishing PepsiCo as a leader in the area of diversity and inclusion.
One such initiative is the Black Enterprise/Pepsi Golf and Tennis Challenge a labor day weekend evnt established 16 years ago by Earl Graves with the help of Pepsico, the parent company of Pepsi Cola.
Febone1960.net caught up with Mr. Cox at the 2009 event where he shared his philosophy in life.
• If you are going to do something, be the best that you can possibly be.
• Develop a hip pocket skill, a skill that you will be known for.
• Don’t hesitate to ask for help from anyone who can help whether they be young or old.
• Find a since of balance in your life. Working 24/7 is not the sole path to success.
• Do give back to the community. If you don’t reach back to help someone like yourself, then you only live a half life
Do the very best you can, so others may read and learn about you one day.
Also remember that Black History is American History.
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