Throughout Ludacris’ dominance in entertainment and business over the past two decades, he says his biggest career challenge was losing a Pepsi endorsement deal.
In 2002, Ludacris was pulled from Pepsi’s advertising campaign that was intended to diversify its reach, The Guardian reports. Pepsi’s decision to suddenly take down the ad with the rapper ensued after former Fox News Channel commentator Bill O’Reilly stated Pepsi’s decision to hire the rapper was “immoral,” per Los Angeles Times.
“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,” O’Reilly said, according to The Guardian.
Soon after, Pepsi expressed in a statement, ”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. 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.”
Pepsi’s decision didn’t sit well with Ludacris.
“‘Most challenging career moment that you survived,’ first thing that comes to mind is Bill O’Reilly talking mess and making me lose my Pepsi endorsement, which is very ironic because years later, if you look it up, he came and he lost his job based off some sexual allegations,” Ludacris told Men’s Health during an episode of “The Rewind.” “So, it’s very funny how the world works and the world turns.”
He continued, “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.”
Today, Ludacris’ relationship with Pepsi has been restored. He says they are working together in partnership with his foundation.
“…My relationship with Pepsi is now back and strong as ever. We’re helping the community together through my foundation, The Ludacris Foundation. So again, everything comes full circle and works out the way that it’s supposed to,” Ludacris expressed to Men’s Health.