In a complaint filed with the New York Supreme Court on Wednesday, Combs claimed that Diageo, despite promoting itself as a champion of diversity, failed to treat its Black partners fairly. He alleged that his Ciroc Vodka and DeLeon Tequila brands were deliberately deprived of resources and labeled as “Black brands” solely targeting “urban” consumers, resulting in a detrimental impact on their growth.
According to the lawsuit, Diageo and its executives hindered the success of Combs’ brands, with the complaint stating, “Ciroc and DeLeon have been starved of resources for all three pillars of success—production, distribution, and sales.”
Responding to the allegations, Diageo issued a statement denying the claims and emphasizing the productive and mutually beneficial nature of their 15-year partnership with Combs. They characterized the lawsuit as a business dispute and expressed disappointment that Combs had chosen to frame it as a racial matter, told CBC News.
The lawsuit also asserted that Diageo displayed preferential treatment towards other celebrity-backed brands, such as George Clooney’s Casamigos and Ryan Reynolds’ Aviation Gin, while failing to fulfill its commitments to invest in Combs Wines and Spirits.
The suit alleged racial discrimination, stating that Diageo treated Combs and his brands unfairly because of his race. It further claimed that a company manager acknowledged the existence of racist undertones within the organization in 2019.
Combs, a Grammy-winning artist known by various stage names including Puff Daddy, P Diddy, and Diddy, revealed his intention to seek billions of dollars in damages through additional legal proceedings against Diageo.
In response, Diageo expressed disappointment that their attempts to resolve the business dispute amicably had been disregarded. They maintained that Combs’ allegations lacked merit and expressed confidence that the facts would demonstrate fair treatment on their part.