'Pepsi Challenge' and the Birth of Niche Marketing A new book, The Real Pepsi Challenge, looks at how the cola company sought brand loyalty among African Americans in the 1940s. Hear from the man who led Pepsi's marketing team.
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'Pepsi Challenge' and the Birth of Niche Marketing

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'Pepsi Challenge' and the Birth of Niche Marketing

'Pepsi Challenge' and the Birth of Niche Marketing

'Pepsi Challenge' and the Birth of Niche Marketing

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/6828902/6830829" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Pepsi hired some of the first professional black models, including a young Ronald H. Brown (in foreground), future U.S. secretary of commerce. Boyd Collection hide caption

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Boyd Collection

Pepsi hired some of the first professional black models, including a young Ronald H. Brown (in foreground), future U.S. secretary of commerce.

Boyd Collection

A series of six magazine ads in 1949 introduced notable black students attending college. Ebony hide caption

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Ebony

A series of six magazine ads in 1949 introduced notable black students attending college.

Ebony

The cola wars between Pepsi and Coke began in the late 1930s when Pepsi started making gains in the market. Pepsi sought the advantage, in part, by appealing to the African-American dollar.

In 1940, Pepsi chief executive Walter Mack had the unprecedented idea of putting together a "negro-markets" department. Edward Boyd led the team of 12 black professionals, making Boyd one of the first black executives in corporate America. He and his group developed a marketing strategy seeking brand loyalty among African Americans. The strategy was one of the first attempts at niche marketing.

Wall Street Journal writer Stephanie Capparell looks at Pepsi's efforts to reach the African-American community in her new book, The Real Pepsi Challenge. Capparell and Boyd talk with Farai Chideya about the special-markets campaign, which featured some of the first black professional models.

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