Drinks giant Diageo on Wednesday said it had ended its relationship with Sean “Diddy” Combs after the US rapper accused it of neglecting their business agreement and racism.
Combs, also known by his stage names Puff Daddy, P. Diddy and Diddy, claimed in a New York court filing on June 1 that the UK-based firm failed to invest in his liquor brands because he is black.
Diageo “kneecapped” his Ciroc Vodka and DeLeon Tequila brands by depriving them of resources after they were “typecasted” as “black brands” meant for “urban” consumers, he alleged.
The British multinational at the time responded by saying it was “saddened” that the 53-year-old rapper, actor and producer had misrepresented a business dispute.
On Wednesday, a Diageo spokesperson said: “Mr Combs’ bad-faith actions have clearly breached his contracts and left us no choice but to move to dismiss his baseless complaint and end our business relationship.
“Mr Combs has repeatedly undermined our partnerships and threatened to publicly defame Diageo if we did not meet his unreasonable financial demands.”
Diageo was committed to the success of Combs’ brands and invested more than $100 million in them to grow them, the spokesperson said.
The drinks firm announced in 2014 that it had created a 50:50 joint venture with Combs Wine & Spirits, after its acquisition of luxury tequila brand DeLeon, which is popular in Hollywood.
They formed a strategic alliance with Combs in 2007 to develop and grow Ciroc.
But the spokesperson added: “Despite having made a billion dollars over the course of our 15-year relationship, Mr Combs contributed a total of $1,000 and refused to honour his commitments.
“We have exhausted every reasonable remedy and see no other path forward.”
There was no immediate response from Combs.
Combs’ legal action claimed that Diageo paid more attention and offered better support to other celebrity backed brands such as George Clooney’s Casamigos and Ryan Reynold’s Aviation Gin, and failed to meet its promises to invest in his.
“Diageo has treated Mr Combs and his brands worse than others because he is black,” the filing stated.