Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs has ended his partnership with the world’s largest spirits maker after he accused the brand of racism and paying lip service to diversity. According to the musician, Diageo North America failed to adequately promote his Ciroc Vodka and DeLeón Tequila brands.
This was captured in a court filing responding to Combs’ lawsuit in May this year. Urging the court to force Combs’ claims into arbitration or dismiss the case, Diageo said Combs has amassed almost one billion dollars from his relationship 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 failing to adequately promote his brands as evidence of paying lip service to promote diversity in its business relations. He pointed out the company’s $1 billion acquisition and marketing of the Casamigos tequila brand partly founded by actor, George Clooney, as evidence of discrimination by the company.
However, Diageo said it was Combs who failed to support his brands, saying he only committed $1,000 into the joint venture while the company 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 said.
Touching on the future of Combs’s spirits, a Diageo spokesperson told Fortune that the brands will continue to be sold despite the court case.