Pepsi Drops Ludacris After Bill O’Reilly Boycotts Brand for Hiring Rapper – Today in Hip-Hop
XXL celebrates 50 years of hip-hop with this moment:
Aug. 28, 2002: Before the term "cancel culture" became a part of the social lexicon, Ludacris was canceled by Pepsi on this day in 2002 after Bill O'Reilly called out the soda giant for hiring "a man who degrades women."
In 2002, Ludacris was one of hip-hop's biggest rap stars and Pepsi tapped him to be their pitchman. But on Aug. 27, 2002, Bill O'Reilly blasted Pepsi for making Luda their spokesperson during a rant on his popular Fox News program, The O'Reilly Factor. The famed conservative host urged his viewers to boycott the soda bottler for hiring a man who he deemed was peddling antisocial behavior.
"So I'm calling for all responsible Americans to fight back and punish Pepsi for using a man who degrades women, who encourages substance abuse and does all the things that hurt particularly the poor in our society," he said.
"We have a responsibility to listen to our customers—and we've heard from a number of people that they were uncomfortable with our association with this artist," the soda maker said in a statement. "We've decided to discontinue our ad campaign with the artist, and we're sorry that we've offended anyone. There are many different types of talented celebrities and artists, but not all of them are compatible with our brands and what consumers have come to expect from us."
On his show, O'Reilly patted himself on the back and praised his viewers for helping him get Luda booted from Pepsi. "Apparently thousands of you let Pepsi know that Ludacris was unacceptable, and today they canceled him," he said. "We applaud Pepsi's decision."
In an August 2023 interview with Men's Health, Luda said Pepsi's decision to drop him was the most challenging career moment that he survived. He now finds it ironic that 21 years later, Bill O'Reilly was fired from Fox News for sexual assault allegations. Plus, Pepsi had to pull a tone-deaf ad featuring Kendall Jenner that was criticized for whitewashing the Black Lives Matter movement.
"It's very funny how the world works and the world turns," he told the publication. "I couldn't for the life of me understand why a company like Pepsi would sign me, and just because this man had something to say about me on television, they dropped me from it."