Hip-hop artist, producer, and entrepreneur Sean "Diddy" Combs is suing business partner and alcohol brand Diageo for alleged racist practices, distribution inconsistencies, and favoring other partnered brands, according to the Guardian.
A court filing revealed that lawyers for Combs said that Diageo and its executives “put their feet on the neck of Mr Combs’ brands" and siphoned off production and distribution capabilities, which lead to fewer sales of Combs-backed products.
Combs' team said they are seeking a court order that would “provide the equal treatment” they say Diageo “contractually promised." A reported "billions of dollars" in damages, neglect, and breaches are allegedly sought after in another suit.
Some of Combs' spirit brands include Ciroc vodka and DeLeon, a high-end tequila.
The lawsuit alleged that Diageo participated in practices that were detrimental to Combs' brands due to marketing them as "Black brands."
“In public, Diageo – a multi-billion dollar, publicly-traded spirits company – proclaims itself a leader in diversity and inclusion,” the New York Supreme Court filing said. Lawyers for Combs also said Diageo's proclamation "is a lie" and alleged that the company has been “unwilling to treat its Black partners equally – even when explicitly required by contract to do so”.
A Diageo spokesperson rejected the claims and said the company has a "steadfast commitment to diversity within our company and the communities we serve is something we take very seriously."
"We categorically deny the allegations that have been made and will vigorously defend ourselves in the appropriate forum," the spokesperson said in a statement to TheBlaze.
However, Combs' lawsuit further claimed that Diageo pigeonholed Ciroc and DeLeon as brands that should only be marketed to urban communities.
“Rather than equal treatment, Diageo has treated Mr Combs and his brands worse than others because he is Black. Diageo has typecast Ciroc and DeLeon, apparently deciding they are ‘Black brands’ that should be targeted only to ‘urban’ consumers,” the filing read.
Discriminatory allegations also extended to claims that Diageo's president, Stephen Rust, said that "if Mr Combs were ‘Martha Stewart’ ... things would be different.”
Representatives for the artist formerly known as "Puff Daddy" also said Diageo “effectively abandoned" the DeLeon brand and instead focused on other celebrity brands: Casamigos, which the company bought from actor/co-founder George Clooney, as well as Aviation Gin, which is owned by actor Ryan Reynolds.
“This is a business dispute," the Diageo spokesperson added. "We are saddened that Mr Combs has chosen to recast this matter as anything other than that."
"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."
Combs Global did not respond to request for comment.
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