Diageo has expressed “confusion” over new accusations of racial insensitivity leveled against it by music mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs.
Combs recently accused Diageo of racial bias in its marketing strategies, particularly regarding introducing a watermelon flavor for Ciroc Vodka, which is owned by Diageo and DeLeon Tequila, which is a joint venture between Combs Wine and Spirits and Diageo.
In a statement to http://AllHipHop.com, Diageo responded to Combs’ allegations, expressing bafflement at his criticism of the marketing and promotion efforts for Ciroc and DeLeon, efforts that Combs himself led.
The company pointed out that Combs not only supported and publicly endorsed the Ciroc Summer Watermelon flavor for several years but also benefited financially from its success.
“Mr. Combs supported, publicly endorsed for several years, and benefited financially from the success of Ciroc Summer Watermelon. His attempt to recast follow-up discussions regarding innovations for DeLeon is, as is his entire suit, disingenuous and self-serving,” the company stated.
Diageo further clarified that under the Ciroc agreement, Combs was solely responsible for brand marketing, and his personally-owned media agency was DeLeon’s marketing agency of record.
The company’s statement suggests that Combs’ accusations are unfounded and contradict his involvement in the brands’ marketing strategies.
“It is baffling to us that Mr. Combs is criticizing brand marketing and promotion for Cîroc and DéLeon – the very efforts he led,” the company added.
The dispute between Combs and Diageo has drawn significant attention due to the high-profile nature of the parties involved and the serious allegations being made.
Diageo severed its 15-year business relationship with Combs following his allegations of racism and business misconduct. Diddy accuses Diageo of neglecting and limiting resources for his brands, while Diageo contends that Diddy breached his contracts and made unreasonable financial demands.
Both parties have traded legal filings, with Diddy’s lawyer calling Diageo’s actions an attempt to distract from discrimination allegations and Diageo denying the accusations as opportunistic.