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Thursday, 6 February, 2003, 16:07 GMT
Pepsi faces hip-hop boycott
Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne
The Osbournes' ads were first shown around January's Superbowl
Rap mogul Russell Simmons has announced plans for a possible hip-hop boycott of Pepsi products over the company's TV ad campaign featuring the Osbournes.

Simmons said he was angry rapper Ludacris' campaign had been pulled for offensive language and replaced by The Osbournes, who were famous for their swearing.

Simmons, the head of influential rap label Def Jam, said he was going to outline plans for a proposed boycott this weekend through the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, a non profit lobby group.

Russell Simmons
Rap mogul Russell Simmons is a powerful figure
"The boycott is being called in response to Pepsi dropping Ludacris as spokesman and subsequently picking up the Osbournes, who are no less vulgar," he said.

The boycott may be announced at this weekend's NBA All-Star Weekend in Atlanta, Georgia, a major US basketball event with lavish, media-friendly parties.

The new Osbourne ads sparking the controversy were first broadcast during the Super Bowl American football final last month.

Sexual lyrics

Rapper Ludacris' ads were pulled six months ago after conservative commentator Bill O'Reilly - a presenter on TV channel Fox News - complained Ludacris was "vulgar" and Pepsi were "immoral" for using him in a campaign.

He threatened a boycott if the ads were not pulled after claiming the song Ludacrise was singing had sexually explicit and profane lyrics.

Pepsi cancelled the 30-second ad, named Party, and claimed it had received several complaints from viewers over the sexual nature of Ludacris' lyrics.

Ludacris
Ludacris is a huge star in the US

But other say there were no offensive words on the advert.

A Pepsi spokesman said the company had regretted the Ludacris controversy.

"It was our mistake, we learned a lot from it and we've moved on," the spokesman said.

"We respect Russell's interest in bringing hip-hop talent to a larger audience and we have worked together to do just that," he added.

Pepsi sparked controversy in 1989 when it had a campaign featuring pop star Madonna around the time of her video for Like A Prayer, which featured burning crucifixes.

See also:

23 Jul 02 | Entertainment
04 Dec 02 | Entertainment
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10 Oct 02 | Entertainment
07 Jan 03 | UK
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