Pepsi Cola Company is in the midst of another controversy stemming from their use of shock rocker Ozzy Osbourne and his family in an ad campaign, after abruptly pulling commercials that included rapper Ludacris in August. The company had bowed to pressure from conservative Bill O'Reilly, who deemed the rapper vulgar.
Russell Simmons, backed by Ben Chavis Muhammad and the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, announced a boycott at a press conference yesterday that would start on Feb. 12.
"I want to make it very clear this has nothing to do with race; it has to do with culture. Pepsi had every right to their opinion. If they said, 'We're worried maybe the language [of Ludacris] is not right, we decide not to use him,' that's fine," Simmons said. "But then they went ahead and put the Osbournes in their campaign."
"In hip-hop, our idea is if you don't want us, we don't want you," he continued.
Muhammad, the HHSA President, outlined the specifics of the boycott and the demands as well.
"One week from today we're asking all artists and supporters of hip-hop to refrain from supporting Pepsi and all Pepsico products. The 'Campaign for Respect' will continue until Pepsi agrees to all of the following: issue an apology to Ludacris and the hip-hop community, make a five-million dollar charitable contribution to the Ludacris foundation, and reinstate the Ludacris commercial ads," Chavis Muhammad said.
In the past, Pepsi issued an apology, but did not offer any comment regarding the boycott.
Others in African American community have directed their comments to Bill O'Reilly, who hosts the O'Reilly Factor on Fox Network.
Paul Moreland, an editor of 4K News in Brooklyn, wrote an open letter to O'Reilly "pleading" for him to jumpstart an appropriately aggressive campaign against using Osbourne to peddle Pepsi.
To O'Reilly, Moreland said: "Now, knowing how you feel about "gangster" rappers promoting wholesome "All American" products like Pepsi, I know you must've blew your lid when you heard Pepsi tapped the world's most famous Satanist to do their biggest ad, right? I just know we can depend on you to ride on this one. If you're not familiar with the tenets of Satanism let me enlighten you bro, these dudes are into animal sacrifice and rampant child abuse, worse than Catholic priests."
At the time of the Ludacris ban, Pepsi defended the decision to remove the ads and considered it a service to consumers of their product. The company said they pulled the ad campaign because they received complaints directly from customers about the rapper's lyrical content, which were deemed offensive and full of sexually profane nuances.
"We have a responsibility to listen to our consumers and we've heard from a number of people that were uncomfortable with our association with this artist," Pepsi said in a statement.