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Pepsi ad man dies at 92

A former Pepsi ad man, Edward F. Boyd, who broke color stereotypes with one of the first corporate marketing campaigns to portray blacks in a positive light, has died. He was 92.

Boyd died April 30 in Los Angeles, Pepsico Inc. spokesman Dave DeCecco said in a statement. There were no other details.

Boyd was working at the National Urban League in New York City in 1947 when what was then the Pepsi-Cola Co. hired him and a team of black salesmen to help the company drive sales among blacks.

PepsiCo CEO and Chairwoman Indra Nooyi said it was time to celebrate Boyd's "amazing life and journey."

"His groundbreaking history with Pepsi and the powerful, lasting impact that Ed made on both our company and our nation speak for themselves," Nooyi said in a statement. "When I reflect upon people who have made a profound difference on our company, Ed Boyd's name will be foremost among them. I believe his passion and tenacity are the embodiment of the very best of what PepsiCo strives to be every day."

As an assistant sales manager, Boyd created a marketing campaign that showed blacks as respectable, middle-class consumers.

One store display, for example, pictured a smiling mother holding a six-pack of Pepsi-Cola as her handsome, young son reached for a bottle. There also were series that profiled 20 black achievers and featured top students at black universities drinking Pepsi.

The promotions differed sharply from the insulting images of "mammies" and "pickaninnies" in many ads at the time.

"We'd been caricatured and stereotyped," Boyd had said. "The advertisement represented us as normal Americans."

Boyd and his team visited black colleges, churches and markets throughout the country to promote Pepsi, enduring the daily injustices of racism along the way.

The group rode on segregated trains and was refused service at white-owned hotels. Insults from some colleagues at Pepsi weren't uncommon.

"Jackie Robinson may have made more headlines, but what Ed did - integrating the managerial ranks of corporate America - was equally groundbreaking," Donald M. Kendall, retired chairman and chief executive of PepsiCo, said in a statement.

Born in 1914 in Riverside, Boyd graduated from the University of California at Los Angeles. A trained singer and dancer, he had minor movie roles after college. He worked for the Screen Actors Guild, then government housing programs, before joining the National Urban League in New York.

After Pepsi-Cola CEO Walter S. Mack left in 1950, company support for Boyd's unit waned. Boyd went on to private and public jobs, including work for an international aid agency, and later raised alpacas in New York.

Looking back, he marveled that the CEO of PepsiCo is now Nooyi, a woman born in India, according to an interview with a Wall Street Journal editor who wrote "The Real Pepsi Challenge: The Inspirational Story of Breaking the Color Barrier in American Business."

"When I think of how the odds were against us, I never would have thought a woman could take Mack's place," Boyd said, "and even less that a person of color could."

Boyd is survived by his wife of 63 years, Edith Jones; daughter Rebecca of New York City; and sons Brandon Boyd of New York City, Edward Boyd Jr. of Boulder, Colorado, and Timothy Boyd of Chicago.

Funeral arrangements were not disclosed.

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