Pepsi is leaving a bad taste in Russell Simmons’ mouth — again.
On Wednesday, Simmons and the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN) called upon the hip-hop community to join the “Campaign for Respect” to challenge what they call the “cultural disrespect” of Ludacris and hip-hop culture by the soft drink giant.
Last year, Fox News Channel’s misanthropic Bill O’Reilly denounced Pepsi for partnering with Ludacris, lambasting his lyrics and calling him a “thug rapper” who “espouses violence, intoxication and degrading conduct toward women.” The next day Pepsi announced that it would drop Ludacris as its spokesperson and apologized to anyone who was offended by the company’s association with him (see “Ludacris Barks Back At Pepsi, O’Reilly; P-Roach Antics Not An Issue For Soda Giant” ).
That upset the hip-hop community enough, but what incited the boycott was Pepsi’s most recent ad campaign that features Jack, Kelly and Ozzy Osbourne, well-known for their bleeping profanity.
The boycott will begin next week and will continue until three demands are met: that Pepsi issues a public apology to Ludacris and to hip-hop culture, that the soda company donates $5 million to the non-profit organization the Ludacris Foundation, and that the pulled commercial be reinstated.
At an HSAN press conference Russell Simmons said, “I think they need to be pushed, they need to be reminded how powerful hip-hop is and that’s what this campaign is for. It’s for respect for these young artists and so that’s what we’re looking forward to, some kind of resolution. But if not, one week from today we start the boycott. And it’s not a black issue, it’s all of young America that buys into hip-hop and has respect for this culture [who] will refrain from using Pepsi products.”
Pepsi responded to the boycott by saying, “The Ludacris situation was unfortunate for all concerned. We learned from it and we moved on. We completely understand and respect Russell Simmons’ passion for promoting hip-hop music and we are working with him and others to do just that.”