Summary of The Real Pepsi Challenge

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The Real Pepsi Challenge book summary


8 Overall

8 Importance

9 Innovation

8 Style


Today, ad posters featuring African-American models are standard corporate practice. But during the 1940s, the Pepsi-Cola Company broke new ground when it ran ads featuring black middle-class families and community achievers. Stephanie Capparell creates an engaging account of Pepsi’s push to integrate its sales staff and customer base. Using insightful interviews and exhaustive research, Capparell provides a detailed portrait of segregation, economic challenges and corporate intrigue. Given the book’s vast amount of information, a timeline and a list of key players would have helped readers navigate the crowded cast of executives and events. But that’s a minor oversight in an otherwise excellent book. getAbstract highly recommends this intriguing saga to all students of corporate history, sales, advertising and racial politics.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How Pepsi broke the color barrier in executive hiring in the U.S.;
  • Why companies finally began to reach out to the $10 billion African-American market; and
  • How politics and pressure finally got Coke to follow Pepsi in advertising to black Americans.

About the Author

Stephanie Capparell edits the “Marketplace” page for The Wall Street Journal, and is the author of Shackleton’s Way: Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer.



Color and Cola Lines
The 1940s battle between Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola has been well documented. But corporate historians have paid far less attention to a conflict of greater significance during that decade: The battle African-American professionals waged for access to corporate America...

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