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Alan Pottasch is like a boomerang at PepsiCo-the farther he goes, the more he comes back.

Mr. Pottash, 68, earned his stripes as the father of the classic "Pepsi Generation" ad theme of the 1960s and '70s, achieving a near-legend ary reputation before retiring three years ago as senior VP-worldwide creative for Pepsi-Cola International, the unit in charge of beverage brands outside the U.S.

At least, he tried to retire.

Mr. Pottash continued to consult for Pepsi both offically and unofficially, only to end up rejoining the company. The process was so gradual, in fact, that Mr. Pottasch can't recall when he officially signed back on.

This time, he not only reacquired his previous post but three others: senior VP-worldwide creative at the company's Frito-Lay snack unit, PepsiCo Foods International and PepsiCo Restaurants International. He now oversees advertising for all PepsiCo products worldwide except U.S. beverages and restaurants.

"I missed the action," says Mr. Pottasch simply.

Mr. Pottasch started with Pepsi in 1959 and has been a senior VP since 1972.

"I spend most of my time interfacing between the brand people and the agencies to get the best possible creative product," he says.

Another facet of his power is evident in his pervasiveness at all units of PepsiCo. For example, although he doesn't control domestic fast-food advertising, he was a consultant on Taco Bell's "Run for the border" marketing strategy.

Still running internationally are the "Pepsi Generation" spots Mr. Pottasch was responsible for in 1963, making that one of the longest-running TV campaigns ever. It has stood the test of time, like Mr. Pottasch himself, and that's perhaps the truest measure of power.

As for future retirement plans: "I'll do it as long as they want me to," he says.


Alan Pottasch


Ad budget: $225 million-plus

Agency roster: BBDO Worldwide, Ogilvy & Mather, DDB Needham Worldwide, Young & Rubicam.

Career: Joined Pepsi in 1959 and retired as senior VP-worldwide creative, Pepsi-Cola International, in 1992. But he continued to consult with Pepsi before coming back officially. The ad awards that adorn his office are too numerous to recite (although that's a Cannes Gold Lion prominently on the left).

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