Monday, January 22, 2007

New Book: The Real Pepsi Challenge

I'm a Diet Coke fan all the way, but a new book reviewed today in USA TODAY sounds interesting: THE REAL PEPSI CHALLENGE: THE INSPIRATIONAL STORY OF BREAKING THE COLOR BARRIER IN AMERICAN BUSINESS by Stephanie Capparell.

The book details Pepsi's efforts to market their product to blacks in the 1940s, and the company's hiring of a dozen black men in their marketing department: "...the heroes of Capparell's book are the black sales reps who stepped across the threshold, breaking a 'color barrier' in the corporate world some seven years before Jackie Robinson did the same in baseball."

"...the Pepsi team was traveling a largely segregated country. They were forced to sit in the backs of buses, ride in separate train compartments, eat behind closed curtains in dining cars and stay with a network of families because many hotels didn't want their business."

This sounds like an interesting slice of American history.

However, I think I might disagree with the author's conclusion, per the review, in which she sees this as a problem: "Managers today aren't so much thinking about how to keep minorities out, she writes, as not thinking about minorities at all."

I'd say that should be regarded as a sign of progress...hopefully an indicator that six decades later, we are nearing the goal of a colorblind society.


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