Diddy accuses Diageo for neglecting his tequila due to race

US Rapper Sean Combs, popularly known as Diddy, has accused drinks giant Diageo of breaking the terms of their business partnership and neglecting the tequila brand they bought together because he is black.

In a complaint filed in New York, the Rapper said the company invested in competing brands, while depriving DeLeon Tequila the same level of support.

He also said Diageo limited the drinks’ distribution to “urban” neighbourhoods.

Mr Combs’ company, Combs Wines & Spirits, said there was a pattern of “racial typecasting”, pointing to disputes that Diageo has had with other black business partners.

“This case is not an ordinary contract dispute in which a party chooses to disregard its contractual promises due to greed and profit,” the firm said in the filing.

“Rather, and similar to the realities experienced by many people of colour in the United States, Diageo’s treatment of its business relationship with Mr Combs was tainted by racial prejudices.”

The lawsuit cites a 2019 conversation in which a Diageo executive allegedly said Mr Combs’s brands would be more widespread had he been “Martha Stewart”, among other decisions.

Diageo denied the allegations and said it would defend itself “vigorously”.

“This is a business dispute, and we are saddened that Mr Combs has chosen to recast this matter as anything other than that,” a spokesman for the company said in a statement.

“Our steadfast commitment to diversity within our company and the communities we serve is something we take very seriously.”

The lawsuit comes after years of partnership between UK-based Diageo and Mr Combs, who rose to fame as a music executive and rapper in the 1990s before branching out into acting and other business ventures.

Diageo, owner of brands such as Johnnie Walker, Guinness and Tanqueray, approached him to help market the company’s Ciroc vodka in 2007.


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