Tag Archives: Coca-Cola

"…the long and fractious history of soft drinks, prohibition laws and race"

A friend shared, “When Jim Crow Drank Coke,” a recent Op-Ed piece from the New York Times.

It is a fascinating and enlightening piece that provides a unique and revealing slice of American history.

Click here to read the article.

Editor’s Note:

After publishing this post, I received a number of inquiries.

I take no position regarding Grace Elizabeth Hale’s historical assertions with regard to Coca-Cola.

As a marketer, I am deeply fascinated by what makes consumers loyal to a specific brand.

Brand loyalty or brand disdain goes well beyond product attributes.

For example,  as with many of my contemporaries, there is a specific gasoline brand and a “fast-casual” restaurant brand that I will not patronize.

In my opinion, those two brands are tarnished and while they had the ability and opportunity to rehabilitate themselves, they elected not to do so to my satisfaction.

Three individuals whom I consider heroes and role models are associated with the Coca-Cola Company: the late J. Bruce Llewellyn, the indomitable Ingrid Saunders Jones and entrepreneur Larry Thornton.

These three individuals impact the way I view the power of brands and what they represent to me as both an African-American and a marketer.

Their actions helped to fortify the Coca-Cola brand and solidify the brand’s position.

For those who would like to read more, check out “The Real Pepsi Challenge: The Inspirational Story of Breaking the Color Barrier in American Business,” by Stephanie Capparell.

A Pioneer Passed Away. A Work Ethic Passed Along.

I first heard of Mr. Llewellyn in the late eighties through my mom.

At that time, she handled government and public relations for the Philadelphia Coca-Cola Bottling Company.

I recall being impressed not only by the fact that a Black man was the owner of major beverage bottler, but also by the fact that, during this period, the company was touted as being the fourth largest Black-owned business in the country.

Over time, I had the opportunity to hear Mr. Llewellyn speak publicly. One of the many things that he would often speak of is the work ethic his father passed along.

It struck a chord with me then and continues to resonate and have a place in the manner in which I approach my own career and work ethic.

I was saddened to learn that this great Black pioneer and trailblazer had passed away, but pleased that his obituary in the New York Times made mention of what impressed me about J. Bruce Llewellyn many years ago.


“Throughout his life, Mr. Llewellyn repeated his father’s dictum that blacks must work twice as hard as whites to achieve half as much.”

click here to read the full obituary.