According to reports, the entertainment mogul filed a lawsuit on Wednesday (May 31st) against the multinational spirits company, citing their neglect of the DeLeón tequila brand he co-owns with them. The lawsuit was filed by Combs Wines and Spirits in New York State Supreme Court against Diageo’s North American entity, with the expressed aim of compelling Diageo to comply with the joint-venture agreement both signed in 2013 and other written agreements crafted to resolve complaints.
Diddy, also known as Sean Combs, has also alleged that Diageo engaged in a pattern of racial discrimination when it came to the DeLeón brand, describing it as a “Black brand” and “urban”. He also accused Diageo of neglecting his brand while investing heavily into two other tequila brands including Casamigos, the brand backed by actor George Clooney which Diageo purchased for $1 billion in 2017. Don Julio is the other brand.
Other examples Combs presented in the documents of the lawsuit include confusion on the pricing of DeLeón bottles and his dismay at the decision by Diageo to not provide available agave to DeLeón during a shortage of the key tequila ingredient in 2020 and 2021. Another example cited was a bottle redesign that “was prone to bubbling, which made the product look cheap,” according to the filing.
According to retail data from last year, DeLeón’s availability on shelves in retail outlets is outpaced by a vast margin. It was estimated to have been found in 3.3% of retail outlets nationwide, while Casamigos and Don Julio were available at 34.4% and 36% of retail outlets nationwide, respectively.
“This is a business dispute, and we are saddened that Mr. Combs has chosen to recast this matter as anything other than that,” a spokeswoman for Diageo said to initial press inquiries. “Our steadfast commitment to diversity within our company and the communities we serve is something we take very seriously. We are disappointed our efforts to resolve this business dispute amicably have been ignored, and that Mr. Combs has chosen to damage a productive and valued partnership.”
Diddy recently launched his Diddy Direct platform, a portal whose aim is to help consumers and retailers locate his spirit brands.