Sean “Diddy” Combs is accusing the liquor giant, Diageo of racial discrimination.
He alleged that the spirits company has neglected his DeLeón tequila brand, which it co-owns. He claims that Diageo has given more support to their other two tequila brands, including Casamigos, the George Clooney-backed brand that Diageo bought in 2017.
In a Wednesday court filing, Diddy said that they considered DeLeón to be a “Black brand.”
“This is a business dispute, and we are saddened that Mr. Combs has chosen to recast this matter as anything other than that,” said a company spokeswoman. “Our steadfast commitment to diversity within our company and the communities we serve is something we take very seriously.”
Diageo has denied the allegations.
It appears Diageo has left Diddy with a bitter taste for years. According to the filing, he’s brought up problems such as out-of-stock products, a lack of distribution, a poor redesign of the bottle, and confusing price changes. Bottles now sell for about $40 to $60 and DeLeón makes up just 0.4 percent of tequila sales.
The Diageo/Combs partnership formed in 2007 to develop Diageo’s Cîroc vodka brand. Combs took responsibility for the brand’s strategic marketing and worked with Diageo on developing new Cîroc products.
In 2013, as tequila was growing in popularity in the U.S., Combs Wines and Diageo formed a joint venture to purchase DeLeón.
By 2022, DeLeón was distributed in 3.3% of retail outlets, compared with 36% for Don Julio and 34.4% for Casamigos, according to the court filing.
In response to Diddy’s allegations, Diageo believes they have always treated Diddy fairly.
“For more than 15 years, we’ve had a productive and mutually beneficial relationship with Mr. Combs on various business ventures, making significant investments that have resulted in financial success for all involved,” the Diageo spokeswoman said. “We are disappointed our efforts to resolve this business dispute amicably have been ignored, and that Mr. Combs has chosen to damage a productive and valued partnership.”