Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs has terminated his collaboration with the world’s largest spirits manufacturer after accusing the company of prejudice and lip service to diversity. Diageo North America, according to the musician, neglected to appropriately promote his Ciroc Vodka and DeLeón Tequila brands.
This was stated in a court filing in May of this year in response to Combs’ case. Diageo has asked the court to compel Combs’ claims into arbitration or to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming that Combs has gained nearly a billion dollars from his association with them.
“Diageo is profoundly disappointed that Sean Combs, an entertainer, and entrepreneur, who has amassed nearly one billion dollars from a fifteen-year relationship with Diageo, has caused this bad faith, sham action to be improperly brought before this Court,” Diageo said in the Manhattan federal court filing, according to Fortune.’
However, a lawyer for Combs noted in a statement that attempts by Diageo to end its deal is a cynical and transparent attempt to avoid being held accountable for its multiple discrimination.
“Diageo attempting to end its deals with Mr. Combs is like firing a whistleblower who calls out racism,” John Hueston, said in a statement. “It’s a cynical and transparent attempt to distract from multiple allegations of discrimination.”
Combs accused Diageo of neglecting to appropriately promote his brands as evidence of the company’s lip service to diversity in its commercial relationships. He cited the company’s $1 billion acquisition and promotion of the Casamigos tequila brand, which was developed in part by actor George Clooney, as evidence of discrimination.
However, Diageo said that Combs was the one who failed to promote his brands, claiming that he only invested $1,000 in the joint venture while the firm invested $100 million.
“The Combs parties’ failure to fund the JV created a contentious relationship, severely damaged the DeLeón brand at a critical juncture, and stalled its promise and potential for growth for several years,” Diageo explained.
Concerning the future of Combs’ spirits, a Diageo representative told Fortune that despite the court action, the brands will continue to be sold.