Sean “Diddy” Combs claimed business partner Diageo neglected his tequila label calling it “urban and a “black brand”in favor of rival Casamigos after it paid $1 billion for the George Clooney-owned spirit, according to a lawsuit filed by the rap mogul Wednesday.
Tequila sales have grown in the United States in recent years, according to data from Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. However, Combs said that his tequila brand hasn’t benefited from the same growth as Casamigos or other tequilas.
He said following Diageo’s 2017 acquisition of Casamigos, the company “effectively abandoned” Diddy’s brands and didn’t give them the same marketing compared to White-owned brands.
Combs alleged the spirits giant “sabotaged” his DeLeon brand tequila with shoddy packaging that “made the product look cheap,” in the complaint filed in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan.
He also alleged that a Diageo executive told him in 2019 that race was one of the reasons the company had limited its distribution of DeLeón and his popular Ciroc vodka.
“Cloaking itself in the language of diversity and equality is good for Diageo’s business, but it is a lie. While Diageo may conspicuously include images of its Black partners in advertising materials and press releases, its words only provide the illusion of inclusion.”
the lawsuit said.
Combs’ relationship with Diageo dates to 2007, when the London-based company which owns more than 200 brands, including Guinness beer and Tanqueray gin approached Combs about Ciroc.
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.
“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.”
In the lawsuit, Combs said he intends to seek billions of dollars in damages in other legal proceedings against Diageo.