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RightNation.US: When Pepsi Abandoned Black People - RightNation.US

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I find this fascinating:

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After World War II, seeking a competitive advantage over market leader Coca-Cola, Pepsi’s staunchly liberal CEO Walter Mack decided to radically expand his company’s marketing efforts in the underserved black community. He hired a team of black sales reps and marketers to blanket the rural Black Belt of the South and the urban enclaves of the North. This team was responsible for hiring some of the first black fashion models used by a major brand. They created the first in-store, point-of-purchase displays targeting black shoppers and hired Duke Ellington to endorse Pepsi from the stage during his shows. Some even went so far as to marry their brand with the moral uprightness of the emerging civil-rights movement, disseminating information about Coca-Cola CEO Robert W. Woodruff’s outspoken support for segregationist policies and politicians.

Black consumers, intensely loyal to institutions that showed them respect, turned out in droves. The campaign was a great success. It was so successful that it had to be killed, and quick. While Coca-Cola remained wholesome and All-American, Pepsi was becoming known as “<censored> Coke.” Fearing a total collapse among white soda drinkers, at a conference for regional Pepsi bottling executives in 1949, the otherwise progressive Walter Mack took to the podium and said he would not let Pepsi become, in so many words, “a <censored> drink.” His top black sales rep, who was in attendance, got up and walked out. Shortly thereafter, the company’s black marketing efforts were quietly scuttled. In 1953, singer/actress Polly Bergen was rolled out as “the Pepsi-Cola Girl,” a fresh-faced, lily-white makeover for the brand.


The article itself is about how AMC's show, Mad Men, treats the race issue. I just finished the first four seasons of the show on Netflix the other day, and I have to agree with the author. Mad Men does a masterful job of dealing with the issue. What critics who bash the show for not having enough black characters or story lines miss is that the reality was that blacks were largely invisible to advertisers. The above incident indicates why. but before you get all sanctimonious, consider this:

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Will white consumers abandon a product once its brand is too black? Yes, they will. Will black consumers abandon a product once its brand is too black? Yes, not wanting to be stereotyped, they will. Even as multicultural image campaigns rightly lobby for more and better black representation in commercials, and as much as America now embraces the endorsement of certain black celebrities, the politically incorrect truth is that there’s a tipping point. The moment a product is “ghetto,” white consumers are gone—and then black consumers are gone, too.


Advertisers still don't seek to win their clients a favorable image with the black community as much as they wish to project an image of "diversity".

I've been having a running conversation with a colleague about the still appalling racism in my native South. The way people talk "down there" is jarring to our California ears. I can't argue with them on that point, but I do try to explain to them that while we may be more enlightened on the surface, people "down there" are more honest. You know where they stand. You may not like it, but you know it. Out here on the left coast, we've fooled ourselves into thinking race doesn't matter to us. I think black people are still invisible to upper middle class and upper class whites in California just like they're invisible to advertisers.

No matter how much racial solidarity white liberals try to show in defending the likes of Derek Bell or voting for Barak Obama, they're not about to move to a black neighborhood or remain in one that becomes predominantly black. Or Hispanic for that matter. Once something becomes "ghetto", the white people are out of there. I should know because I'm staying put in a neighborhood where that exact thing is happening. I don't blame them for wanting a "better" neighborhood, but I guarantee you they never stop to think about how much of their choices involve a subconscious desire to avoid that which is associated with "black".

The point is they don't think about it. In the South, they do.

My Mind is Clean
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6 Comments On This Entry

I'm from (and still live) "down there" and your accusations of lingering racism in an entire region of the country are not only unfounded, they are wholly insulting and offensive. No matter what, some people will always choose to be racist. It will never be completely erased from the hearts of men. However, such an attitude is no longer representative of the South and I am really offended that you would slander all Southerners that way.
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Floridamom, on 15 March 2012 - 10:04 AM, said:

I'm from (and still live) &quot;down there&quot; and your accusations of lingering racism in an entire region of the country are not only unfounded, they are wholly insulting and offensive. No matter what, some people will always choose to be racist. It will never be completely erased from the hearts of men. However, such an attitude is no longer representative of the South and I am really offended that you would slander all Southerners that way.

???

Since you're a long time reader/poster, I'm not going to insult you. I'm just going to ask you to read it again.
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So your point is to give white southern racists credit for being "honest" about their racism. Is that about right?
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That_Guy, on 15 March 2012 - 10:58 PM, said:

So your point is to give white southern racists credit for being &quot;honest&quot; about their racism. Is that about right?

Yes.
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I live in sw GA where yes, racism still exists to some degree. But I don't feel it is any worse here that in my sister's town on Long Island or most other places. Is it more honest? I don't know. I think it just depends on the individuals, not the area.
The blacks in my children's private Christian school act like the other students and are treated the same by everyone. We are glad they are there and glad they represent our school in such a positive manner. They are a minority because it seems to me that the black community in general doesn't have the same values I do.
Most blacks here in my local public school act like animals. They don't even act human in some cases. However I will admit the Whites are nothing to brag about either. For the most part they aren't as bad but I think they are getting worse.
Does admitting all this make me a rascist? I don't think so. It may make me a class snob in some way. I don't care where you come from but I do care about who you become. For me its about your behavior, your work ethic, your values.
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That_Guy, on 15 March 2012 - 10:58 PM, said:

So your point is to give white southern racists credit for being &quot;honest&quot; about their racism. Is that about right?



I wonder if the same can be said for Northern Black Racists?
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