Pepsi Search Makes Point Of Diversity

In the past decade, the U.S. teen population has not only increased—by 17 percent from 1990-2000—but also has become more ethnically diverse, according to the 2000 Census. Pepsi, which is searching for a new agency to handle advertising aimed at African Americans, needs a partner that can use the demographic stats to its advantage.

Giuseppe D’Alessandro, director of multicultural marketing at Pep siCo, said the urban population, particularly African Americans and now Latinos, are a major force in pop-culture trendsetting. “Afri can-American impact began emerging in the 1970s” and came to the fore at the turn of the millen nium, he said. Latinos are still in the “batting practice” stage, but their impact will mature in the coming years, he noted.

What marketers need from an African-American agency partner is insight into that consumer market “whether they’re 80 or eight,” D’Alessandro said. The shop must convey a message that recognizes the group’s impact on other ethnic teens and communicate it broadly, he said.

At least three shops—New York’s Chisholm-Mingo and SpikeDDB, and GlobalHue in Southfield, Mich.—are contenders for the estimated $10 million account, sources said.

Pepsi execs would not comment on the review. Sources said the search began days after Pepsi said it would part with UniWorld in New York, after four years, and only weeks after criticism arose over a spot by the shop starring rapper Ludacris, whose lyrics are said to glorify violence.

Pepsi rep Bart Casabona said the decision to part with UniWorld preceded the Ludacris incident.

Randy Melville, Pepsi vp of multicultural development and strategic initiatives, who is running the review, sources said, was unavailable for comment.