Russell Simmons Suspends Boycott After Pepsi Agrees To One Of His Demands

Pepsi, Hip-Hop Summit Action Network still negotiating on Ludacris’ apology, reinstatement of his commercial.

It looks like Pepsi is finally giving Russell Simmons something he can swallow.

Simmons has agreed to suspend plans to boycott Pepsi after the soda company bowed to at least one of his demands Monday night. The announcement came on Tuesday (February 11), only one day before the boycott was scheduled to begin (see Pepsi’s Osbournes Ad Leads To Russell Simmons’ Call For Boycott” ).

Agreeing to make a $5 million charitable donation to the Ludacris Foundation, Pepsi indicated it would continue negotiating with Simmons and the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network on the other two demands: that it make a public apology to Ludacris and the hip-hop community and that it reinstate Ludacris’ Pepsi commercial.

On February 5, Simmons held a press conference in conjunction with the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, during which he accused the beverage giant of applying a double standard by placing the Osbournes, notorious for their use of four-letter words, in a Super Bowl commercial only months after yanking Ludacris as a response to complaints about his vulgar lyrics. Last year Fox News Channel talking head Bill O’Reilly chastised Pepsi for partnering with Ludacris, condemning his lyrics and calling him a “thug rapper” who “espouses violence, intoxication and degrading conduct toward women” (see Ludacris Barks Back At Pepsi, O’ Reilly; P-Roach Antics Not An Issue For Soda Giant” ).

HSAN released a statement on Tuesday announcing that Pepsi and the Ludacris Foundation will enter in a “partnership that will distribute millions of dollars in charitable contributions from Pepsi to grass-roots nonprofit organizations serving the needs of disadvantaged youth throughout the United States.” The statement also notes that 100 percent of funds procured by Pepsi will be distributed through Ludacris’ nonprofit organization, which offers arts and music programs to underprivileged youth.

At press time, there was no word on whether Pepsi will reinstate the Ludacris commercial or issue the rapper a public apology. Last week a Pepsi spokesperson came close to fulfilling the latter obligation, indicating that the company had blown it, and that the way it had handled the situation was a mistake.