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African-American corporate pioneer dies

May 2, 2007 by  
Filed under Money/Business, News

Edward Boyd helped integrate sales force of Pepsi-Cola, changed blacks’ image in advertisements.

NEW YORK ( — Edward F. Boyd, a seminal figure in African-American business history, died Monday at the age of 92, Pepsi announced Wednesday.

In 1947 Pepsi-Cola hired Boyd to lead an all-black sales force to sell the soft drink in the African-American market, seeking to gain a foothold against well-entrenched Coca-Cola (Charts, Fortune 500). The sales team endured Jim Crow-era segregation as it traveled the country doing work that led to double-digit percentage sales increases, according to a release from Pepsi.

Boyd helped integrate the professional staff of Pepsi-Cola. He was also responsible for changing the image of African-Americans as caricatures in advertisements to conventional, attractive, middle-class Americans, the release said.

Boyd’s sales team was featured in the 2007 book, “The Real Pepsi Challenge” by Stephanie Capparell.

Boyd left Pepsi (up $0.60 to $67.00, Charts, Fortune 500) in 1951 and worked at the ad agency Sherman & Marquette before going on to be a mission chief for the international aid agency CARE in 1954. He later worked for the Society for Ethical Culture.

Boyd retired in 1981 and lived in New York City. He’s survived by his wife, four children, their spouses, and a granddaughter.

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