Diageo, the world’s largest producer of alcoholic beverages, is pushing back against an effort to promote rapper and entrepreneur Sean Combs as part of an advertising campaign for its new tequila business. The company is citing claims that Combs had been involved in a rape in 1995 as part of its renewed push to keep the hip-hop mogul out of their ad campaigns.
In recent years, the British-based company has sought to diversify its portfolio, launching new lines of liquor, namely the launch of DeLeón Tequila. As part of the launch of this new product, Diageo sought to speak to Combs about a possible endorsement. However, the company’s decision was met with considerable public resistance from advocacy groups, who pointed out Combs’ legal history, which includes a rape allegation in 1995.
The allegation was made when Combs, known professionally as “Diddy,” was accused of rape by another woman at a party. Combs faced charges in the incident, although they were later dropped. He maintained his innocence at the time, and the woman involved has since said she no longer believes it was an act of violence.
Diageo initially responded to the uproar by stating that it “takes its commitment to respect women seriously,” but now the company is using the allegation as a reason to shutdown any potential partnership with Combs. The company is citing its “zero-tolerance policy on harassment and discrimination” in its renewed stance.
This is not the first time the company has faced backlash for its business decision. Last year, the company pulled ads from its Johnnie Walker whiskey featuring a transgender model after customers complained.
In response to Diageo’s decision to cite the allegations in renewing its push to keep Combs out of their advertising campaigns, the rapper’s team has suggested that the issues surrounding the claims occurred decades ago and should not be used to make current business decisions. They also asked that all views on the matter be “respected.”
There’s no doubt that Diageo’s latest move has made waves throughout the business world, and it will be interesting to see how the situation unfolds. Companies often have to contend with unfavorable actions they’ve made in the past, and the way this company is handling this situation will send a clear message about its moral compass and business practices.