Diddy responds to Diageo dissolving its partnership with him after he called the company out for what he called racial discrimination.
After calling out spirits brand Diageo with a lawsuit for what he called racially motivated favoritism of George Clooney’s Casamigos tequila over his own DeLeón brand, Sean “Diddy” Combs has been cut loose by the company. Diddy and his legal team have released a statement calling the London-based company’s abrupt action “cynical” and little more than a distraction.
“Diageo attempting to end its deals with Mr. Combs is like firing a whistleblower who calls out racism. It’s a cynical and transparent attempt to distract from multiple allegations of discrimination,” the statement reads. “Over the years, (Combs) has repeatedly raised concerns as senior executives uttered racially insensitive comments and made biased decisions based on that point of view.”
“Diageo even acknowledged the problem by agreeing in his contract to treat DeLeón the same way it treated their other tequila brands,” the statement continues. “He brought the lawsuit to force them to live up to that contract, and instead, they (responded) by trying to get rid of him. This lawsuit and Mr. Combs are not going away.”
Tarik Brooks, President of Combs Global, also asserted that the company’s behavior was “absurd,” stating that Diageo must correct the wrong of discriminating against Diddy and that the musician and businessman would not hesitate to continue fighting injustice.
“It’s absurd for Diageo to suggest that a Black person should be quiet and accept racism and discrimination because they earned a lot of money,” said Brooks. “Sean Combs is a spirits pioneer who has accomplished historic success with CIRÔC. He will always fight to be treated fairly.”
Following his success with CIRÔC, Diddy struck a deal with Diageo to work on his DeLeón tequila brand. However, the company’s perspective on the brand shifted, directly impacting its growth and revenue. Combs says he believes the issue is rooted in racism.
“Diageo has typecasted CIRÔC and DeLeón, apparently deciding they are ‘Black brands’ that should be targeted only to ‘urban’ consumers,” read court documents.
Diageo has asserted that the dispute was strictly business, categorically denying the allegations. Still, Combs says that Diageo executive Stephen Rust confirmed to him in 2019 that race was one of the reasons the company had limited its product distribution, allegedly saying that if Combs were Martha Stewart, they would make his brand widely available.
Diddy also blames Diageo’s redesign of his product’s label, which “made the product look cheap,” combined with the company’s lack of distribution of his tequila and the ingredients to produce it.