Leave it to Sean “Diddy” Combs to join forces with the world’s largest spirits producer, transform a 50,000-case-per-year vodka into the nearly 2 million-per-year Ciroc, grow a personal fortune exceeding a half-billion dollars, then ink a new beverage deal—and declare that, in many ways, it’s even more significant than the first one.
That’s exactly what Diddy did today after announcing he has formed a joint venture with Diageo and purchased DeLeón, a boutique tequila brand currently distributed in 18 U.S. states and in Washington, D.C.
“With Ciroc, we tested the waters—or, I would say, we dated,” Diddy told Forbes. “Now, with this joint venture, we took this step and we got married. I think it’s organic, I think we work together so well, we have a proven track record, and I wouldn’t want to do it with anybody else.”
Though Diddy’s most successful collaboration with Diageo thus far has been Ciroc vodka, he’ll be approaching DeLeón differently. For starters, whereas his Ciroc deal earns him a share of profits—and a share of the proceeds of any potential sale of the brand—the DeLeón deal is more of a traditional joint venture.
Both sides invested cash to make the purchase, and Diddy, via his newly-formed Combs Wine & Spirits, will be an equal partner with Diageo in equity terms. Neither side would reveal how much it paid for DeLeón.
Regardless, Diddy and Diageo clearly have lofty hopes for their latest collaboration. The latter has been looking for a new tequila brand after parting ways with Jose Cuervo, the massively popular beverage Diageo distributed until June 2012.
In committing to the new venture, Diddy brings his unique marketing skills, his web of connections to entertainment industry tastemakers, his cash—and, just maybe, a willingness to seal the deal in the most permanent way possible– (a tattoo of the new tequila).