Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
February 14, 2003
POP CULTURE: UCR Alert
According to this UPI wire report:
The Hip-Hop Summit Action Network Thursday announced a last-minute agreement with PepsiCo Inc. in New York averting a boycott of the company's products. The organization had said earlier in the day that it would call an immediate boycott over what it called Pepsi's "cultural disrespect" of hip-hop. HSAN Chairman Russell Simmons first called for a boycott last week, accusing the company of applying a double standard for hip-hop in its national TV advertising. Simmons said the company demonstrated disrespect for hip-hop culture by dropping an ad campaign for Pepsi-Cola featuring rapper Ludacris because of public protests over the sexually explicit context of his lyrics -- then featuring foul-mouthed metal rocker Ozzy Osbourne in ads for one of its soft drinks. Simmons said Tuesday that HSAN had reached a "multi-million dollar, multi-year agreement" with the company and the Ludacris Foundation. He told United Press International Thursday that he decided to renew the call for a boycott because the company had not yet signed on to a formal agreement. . . Simmons said Pepsi accepted a formal agreement Thursday, calling for the company to contribute "millions of dollars" to the Ludacris Foundation -- a non-profit organization founded by the rapper.
A few thoughts:
1. "Disrespect for hip-hop culture" is an awfully serious charge, and should not be thrown around lightly in a mere commercial dispute.
2. I bet you didn't know there was such a thing as "the Ludacris Foundation." Do they give college scholarships? ("I've got the Ludacris scholarship to go to Stanford!") Endow scientific research? ("Here at Ludacris Laboratories, we're working on cheap, renewable sources of energy.")
3. Would litigation have focused on comparing and contrasting the vices of Ludacris and Ozzy? Man, that would have been an entertaining case.
4. I have to respect Simmons' candor in this quote:
When HSAN first raised the threat of a boycott last week, the organization demanded that Pepsi not only donate $5 million to the foundation, but also issue a public apology to Ludacris and reinstate his ad. Asked Thursday whether the company had issued a public apology, Simmons said, "The millions of dollars is pretty much the same thing."