Diddy is suing Diageo over allegations that the spirits giant has stunted the growth of his brands because of racist practices.
Last week, Sean Combs launched his latest platform Diddy Direct, a one-stop shop for consumers and retailers to find Combs Spirits’ portfolio near them. That announcement is now being followed by a lawsuit against Diageo for treating his DeLeón tequila as an inferior “urban” product that’s hard to find.
Per legal docs obtained by BOSSIP, Diddy alleges Diageo’s inclusive and diverse culture is a “lie” and he’s accusing the London-based company, which he’s partnered with since 2007, of neglect, racism and sabotage in the distribution and production of his brands.
According to the lawsuit, Diaego has “typecasted” Ciroc and DeLeón apparently deciding they are “black brands” that should be targeted to only “urban” consumers.
When it comes to DeLeón in particular, Combs alleges that the tequila has been treated less favorably than the likes of Don Julio and Casamigos—the latter of which Diageo purchased from founders George Clooney, Randy Gerber and Mike Meldman. The lawsuit alleges that multiple retailers have reported that despite their interest in carrying DeLeón Tequila and/or Ciroc, “Diageo never contacted them for potential sale and distribution of those brands.”
“Rather than equal treatment, Diageo has treated Mr. Combs and his brands worse than others because he is Black,” reads a portion of the lawsuit. “Diageo has typecasted Ciroc and DeLeon, apparently deciding they are ‘Black brands’ that should be targeted only to ‘urban’ consumers.”
“Diageo’s President of Reserve and New Business, Stephen Rust, directly acknowledged the company’s racist undertones in 2019, telling Mr. Combs that some within Diageo’s leadership resented him for making too much money,” the lawsuit also alleges.
“He also admitted that Mr. Combs’ race was part of the reason Diageo limited the neighborhoods where the Combs brands were distributed. If Mr. Combs were “Martha Stewart,” Mr. Rust said, things would be different.”
Diddy is alleging that the brand has even produced lower quantities of his spirits and hidden DeLeón on its own website.
Combs seems to have had enough and wants Diageo ordered to provide the “equal treatment” that it contractually promised. He intends to seek billions in damages for the alleged misconduct in other legal proceedings.
In a statement, Diageo denied allegations of racism.
“This is a business dispute, and we are saddened that Mr. Combs has chosen to recast this matter as anything other than that,” the company said in a statement provided to The Associated Press. “While we respect Mr. Combs as an artist and entrepreneur, his allegations lack merit, and we are confident the facts will show that he has been treated fairly.”
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