Does hip-hop speak to Pepsi’s “new generation”? Well, it depends on who you ask.
Last week, Fox News Channel’s conservative ranter Bill O’Reilly denounced the soda giant for choosing Ludacris to appear in Pepsi ads, calling him a “thug rapper” who “espouses violence, intoxication, and degrading conduct toward women.” Just one day later, Pepsi announced that it was dropping Luda as its spokesperson and apologizing to anyone who was offended by its association with him.
This move came despite Pepsi’s own research which had found that teens ranked the soda’s hip-hop spokesperson as popular as any celebrity associated with the brand in the past.
O’Reilly commended Pepsi’s move, stating, “Americans should let the merchants of bad taste know that hiring corrupters and incompetents is not acceptable.”
Meanwhile, Ludacris is calling for fans to rally against anti-hip-hop politics and has formed a campaign called “It’s Got to Be Ludacris.” Responding to both O’Reilly and Pepsi-Cola, Ludacris states, “My message represents an ideology and a way of life that is true to me and the new generation to an extent that corporate and political forces can’t touch … At one time, I helped Pepsi to navigate their product through the inner-city communities that are vital to their sales. Over the past few days I have rethought my approach as to how I do business and retained a team to … take the power back for the good of the hip-hop community. Oh, and [one more thing]: Players govern players. Spectators form opinions.”
Ironically, while Luda’s lyrics have failed the Pepsi challenge, it looks like Papa Roach’s rock and roll antics still taste great. The band has made some questionable moves, such as appearing in the 2000 adult film “Backstage Sluts 3,” and more recently, there have been reports that frontman Jacoby Shaddix may have urinated into a Gatorade bottle — which is made by Pepsi-Cola — during a concert in Boston. But so far, this hasn’t affected Papa Roach’s participation in an upcoming ad campaign for Pepsi’s newest drink, Pepsi Blue. According to a Pepsi spokesperson, the soft drink company hasn’t made any changes regarding the band.