Russell Simmons calls for Pepsi boycott over Ozzy ad. He calls the soda bottler hypocritical for dumping Ludacris over his rap lyrics and then hiring the foulmouthed rocker

By Gary Susman
Updated February 05, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST
Credit: Russell Simmons: Big Pictures USA/Newscom

Hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons is bubbling over with anger at Pepsi, now that the soda bottler is using Ozzy Osbourne and his foul-mouthed family in commercials. His publicist announced Tuesday that, as head of the politically minded Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, Simmons plans to call for a boycott of Pepsi. ”The boycott is being called in response to Pepsi dropping Ludacris as spokesman and subsequently picking up the Osbournes, who are no less vulgar,” the publicist told Reuters.

Last August, Fox News Channel host Bill O’Reilly blasted Pepsi as ”immoral” for hiring the ”Word of Mouf” rapper to star in its commercials. A Pepsi spokesperson appeared on ”The O’Reilly Factor” to insist that the ads were G-rated, but O’Reilly said Ludacris was a danger to children because of his often explicit lyrics. A day after the show aired, Pepsi canned Ludacris and scrapped the ads, citing call-in complaints. Ludacris raps for Def Jam, the label Simmons founded two decades ago. Of the controversy over the rapper, a Pepsi spokesman now tells Reuters, ”It was our mistake, we learned a lot from it and we’ve moved on.”

Despite their bleep-filled speech and Ozzy’s past reputation as metal’s Prince of F—ing Darkness, the Osbournes have been hailed as family-friendly by such conservatives as former Vice President Dan Quayle and feted by President Bush and Queen Elizabeth. Maybe Ludacris needs his own comical MTV reality series.