Diageo ends its 15-year partnership with Diddy shortly following the mogul’s racial discrimination lawsuit against the company.
Diddy and his Combs Spirits empire kicked off Summer with a lawsuit against its partner Diageo. Brother Love alleges the brand racially discriminated against his spirits and sabotaged the distribution among other things. Furthermore, he claims Diageo “typecasted” Ciroc and DeLeón labeling them “black brands” that should be targeted to only “urban” consumers. All Diddy wants is “equal treatment” like Don Julio and Casamigos. Most importantly he wants billions in damages from the alleged shady distribution antics.
According to CNN, Diageo is responding to the claims by simply ending its 15-year partnership with Diddy while alleging he’s been the issue in their business dealings. In court filings yesterday Diageo asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit. The brand also called his racial discrimination claims “false and reckless” and his lawsuit “an effort to extract additional billions” from the company”. The docs also allege Combs “repeatedly undermined our partnerships and threatened to publicly defame Diageo if we did not meet his unreasonable financial demands”. The messiest part is the company claiming they’ve invested more than $100 million to help grow DeLeón and while Combs only contributed $1,000.
Combs attorney John Hueston wasted no time responding with an official statement. The statement makes it clear this issue won’t be going away until it’s resolved.
“Diageo attempting to end its deals with Mr. Combs is like firing a whistleblower who calls out racism. It’s a cynical and transparent attempt to distract from multiple allegations of discrimination. Over the years, he has repeatedly raised concerns as senior executives uttered racially insensitive comments and made biased decisions based on that point of view. Diageo even acknowledged the problem by agreeing in his contract to treat DeLeon the same way it treated their other tequila brands. He brought the lawsuit to force them to live up to that contract, and instead, they respond by trying to get rid of him. This lawsuit and Mr. Combs are not going away.”
What this means for the future of DeLeón and Ciroc remains to be seen. However, we can be sure companies will be lining up to partner with Diddy.