Updated with Jeffrey Katzenberg comment: Former DreamWorks Animation Chairman Roger Enrico — best known for his long career at PepsiCo, where he made its flagship product a pop culture phenomenon — died today, according to multiple reports. He was 71.
Enrico joined DWA in 2001, shortly after he retired from Pepsi, and served until 2012. He was replaced by Ariel Investments president Mellody Hobson.
His contract with the studio when it went public in 2004 provided for a $1 salary plus performance-based stock — much of which he donated to charity, including scholarships for lower-paid employees.
DWA chief Jeffrey Katzenberg called Enrico “a leader in every sense of the word, owning a rare combination of courage, tenacity, compassion and creativity. His career at PepsiCo is the stuff of legends, and as our Chairman he was an invaluable voice during a pivotal time in the growth and evolution of our company. I am eternally grateful for his leadership, his counsel and, most of all, his friendship. He will be sorely missed by us all.”
Enrico was one of the best-known corporate chiefs in the 1980s and ’90s for his daring marketing efforts at Pepsi to take on Coca-Cola, recounted in his memoir The Other Guy Blinked: How Pepsi Won the Cola Wars.
He paid mega-millions to enlist pop stars including Michael Jackson, Madonna and Lionel Ritchie to promote Pepsi as “the Choice of a New Generation.” (Jackson suffered severe burns when his hair caught fire while filming a Pepsi commercial in 1984.)
Coke began to lose market share, and Enrico said that it blinked when it fought back by changing the formula of its flagship beverage, which became known — and widely reviled — as New Coke. The company backtracked, reviving its original formula as Classic Coke before retiring New Coke.
PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi called Enrico “one of the most creative marketers of his or any generation. He was a risk-taker, never afraid to challenge the status quo or make bold moves to get ahead. He was tough as nails, always prepared to get the job done and beat the competition. At the same time, he had a true love for our people and a passion for empowering them to reach their full potential.”
“Roger devoted more than 30 years of his life to PepsiCo and his leadership was instrumental in making us the company we are today. He was a dear friend, role model and mentor to so many of us and he will be sorely missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with Roger’s lovely wife, Rosemary, his son, Aaron, and the rest of the Enrico family during this difficult time.”
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