Diageo is moving forward with terminating its marketing services agreement with Sean “Diddy” Combs for Cîroc and the wind-down of their business relationship together with DeLeón despite his allegations of retaliation by the company.
A spokesperson for Diageo told AllHipHop, “This is a business dispute and should not be recast as anything other than that. We have exercised our contractual rights to terminate the marketing services agreement in place for Cîroc and begin the wind-down of the DeLeón joint venture.”
The spokesperson added, “Our actions are consistent with our desire to protect the significant investment we have made in both brands and their future growth. Mr. Combs’ longstanding bad faith actions, false accusations, and breaches of contract overwhelmingly support Diageo’s justified decision to sever ties.”
Combs has accused Diageo of “illegal and outrageous retaliation” following his legal action against the company. He alleges that Diageo has neglected, racially discriminated, and unequally treated him in the distribution, production, and sales of DeLeón Tequila, a brand he co-owns.
Combs also alleged that Diageo classified DeLeón as a “Black” brand only marketable to urban customers and complained about its neglect of the DeLeón brand, which included allocating all its agave, the main tequila ingredient, to its other tequilas; erratic production leading to repeated shortages of DeLeón; and mistakes that led to a shipment of DeLeón being impounded by Mexican authorities.
In a court filing, Combs stated, “The message is clear – if you dare to shed light on Diageo’s conduct, you will be punished.”
John Hueston, Combs’s attorney, sent a letter to Diageo’s attorney, demanding that the company end “its plainly retaliatory and unlawful conduct.”
Hueston stated, “While Diageo has self-servingly misrepresented the goals of Combs’s lawsuit in the press, its attempt to retaliate against Combs for asserting his legal rights will not work in court.”
In the letter to Diageo, Hueston detailed that there was absolutely no legal basis for the company to claim that Combs breached any contracts to end the DeLeón and Cîroc relationships.
He added that, ironically, a Diageo spokesperson had disparaged Combs in public statements outside of litigation.