Pepsi’s generation next

The Wall Street Journal has just flashed a news alert that Pepsi CFO Indra Nooyi has been named Pepsi CEO effective October 1, succeeding Steven Reinemund. The Journal reports: “The move makes Nooyi one of the top women in corporate America.” For what the Journal doesn’t report, see my June 2005 Standard column: “The straight story.” Message: Buy Coke products. (Thanks to readers Joe Loughran, Tom Broeker and Kerry Anderson.)

UPDATE: Mark Memmott takes note at the USA Today On Deadline blog: “New Pepsi CEO is exec who sparked boycott.”

MORE: Pepsi nemesis Major E. (see my Standard column) comments:

Pepsi is smart to promote Ms. Nooyi after she proved her devotion to profits over principle last year. Looking back, it is too bad that she never chose to defend her remarks and beliefs about America’s current role in the world, but instead offered one of those tortured “if someone was offended” comments that people say after they say what they mean, but fear the public relations fallout for being honest.

I suspect she knew better than to defend her beliefs because honesty in that situation would likely create public relations damage–and slow soda sales. Her preference to protect Pepsi’s corporate bottom line while sacrificing her opportunity to openly explain her beliefs about America’s role in the world shows that Pepsi made the profitable choice to promote her.

Still, is it too hard for her to answer the question that she has dodged so far: Does America’s role in liberating people living under tyranny in Iraq and Afghanistan constitute “giving the world the finger” or “lending the world a hand”?

Finally, it has been over a year since I stopped drinking Pepsi and Gatorade–and it will be easy to continue knowing that Ms. Nooyi was chosen to represent Pepsi’s values.

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