Coca Cola’s Fred Clark, ’20, drew on Kilts Center resources to make the leap from finance to marketing—for one of the world most recognizable brands.
- September 30, 2020
When Fred Clark, ’20, landed an internship and then a full-time role at renowned Atlanta-based beverage maker Coca-Cola, he knew he had a marketer’s dream job. With a storied legacy to draw upon, the iconic brand and its focus on storytelling provided a plethora of inspiration and opportunity for the recent graduate. But Clark also brings to the role his own profound passion: a focus on multicultural marketing.
“I’m passionate about multicultural marketing because I want minority communities to be able to benefit from the marketing that targets our strong buying power and cultural influence,” said Clark, a Houston native. He’s driven to become a marketer who not only considers multicultural demographics, but also serves as a good steward of the marketing that reaches those communities.
“By investing dollars with vendors and creatives in our minority communities,” said Clark, “we will be able to influence change related to systemic issues that still have an impact today.”
Empowering a Career Change
Clark’s introduction to marketing came from a company he launched with classmates as an undergraduate at Morehouse College. The group would curate fun events, primarily in nightlife and entertainment, which they advertised to fellow college students across Atlanta.
“We turned it into a viable business—brands started to come to us and ask us to market for them at our events,” Clark remembered. “I always did it on the side, but I had an itch to explore it in a greater capacity.”
Graduating with a degree in business administration with a concentration in finance, Clark took a job in the oil industry and spent eight years working in finance at Shell. But he felt something pulling him back to marketing, so he enrolled in the Full-Time MBA Program at Booth. He found his MBA classes gave him a foundational understanding of marketing, as well as an appreciation for both the art and the science of the field.
“Classes like Data Driven Marketing gave me the tools to be able draw insights from a dataset and make informed marketing decisions to drive revenue.”
In classes such as Data-Driven Marketing, taught by Kilts Family Professor of Marketing Günter J. Hitsch, Clark learned that the old-school, Mad Men-esque idea that “whoever has the most creative idea wins” is a thing of the past. “In this new age of technology and data, marketing is understanding consumer markets and being able to be predictive in your way of thought,” Clark said. “Classes like Data Driven Marketing gave me the tools to be able draw insights from a dataset and make informed marketing decisions to drive revenue.”
A Supportive Community
He also found support from the James M. Kilts Center for Marketing at Booth, which introduced him to programs and resources, and helped him further build connections with marketing professors. “All of the Speaker Series that the Kilts Center offered were very helpful in putting myself in a mindset of marketing, whereas my whole career I had been focused on the dollars and cents of finance,” he said.
Outside of the classroom, Clark participated in student-led groups, serving as the co-chair of Booth’s African American MBA Association (AAMBAA) and as a member of the Dean’s Marketing Advisory Committee (DMAC). He enjoyed building deep relationships with his classmates through various school programming and class trips.
"This year has also allowed me to build relationships with those willing to have the uncomfortable conversations. As an African American man, I was rightfully disturbed by the constant images of police brutality and racial injustice in the media," he said. "I was pleasantly surprised by a few of my classmates who reached out to express allyship and better educate themselves on critical issues facing the Black community."
A Sweet Opportunity
For his summer internship between his first and second year at Booth, Clark landed a coveted role at Coca-Cola, working on the Diet Coke brand. His job was to build out a three-year strategy in the convenience retail channel, and he enjoyed working with creative agencies to see the visual components come together.
“Being able to sit down with creative agencies and tech companies to see the full potential of marketing/branding in the CPG industry was huge for me,” Clark said.
Clark ended up pitching a strategic campaign as the capstone of his internship, and was offered a job post-graduation as an associate brand manager for the company’s Gold Peak Tea line. In the first months of this new role, he’s excited to lead its social media and digital efforts.
“I truly just want to use my position and influence to drive change and positive growth in our minority communities.”
With his Booth experience still so fresh in his memory, Clark has a keen awareness of how that business school community helped propel him to a critical role in the marketing department of an esteemed global brand.
“I had such a strong appreciation for the level of intelligence and just the caliber of classmates that I had when I got into Booth,” said Clark. “Everybody was very welcoming, friendly. They all had unique backgrounds, and that helped me to grow and stretch my comfort zone.”
And as he begins his career in marketing, Clark is dedicating himself to making the kind of impact he wants to see in the world, especially in the realm of multicultural marketing. “I truly just want to use my position and influence to drive change and positive growth in our minority communities.”
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