Sean Combs, record producer and entrepreneur who has gone by the name of Diddy, has bought Hollywood’s favourite tequila brand DeLeon in partnership with British drinks multinational Diageo.Combs, who became the face of Diageo’s Cîroc vodka in a marketing deal that has helped increase sales 40-fold, said: “With Cîroc, we dated. Now with DeLeon, we’re married. This deal is way better. This makes me a true owner.”
Diageo and Combs will each own 50% of the “ultra premium” tequila, which sells for up to $90 (£55) a shot. Both parties declined to state how much they paid for the brand, created by American former banker Brent Hocking in 2009.
Combs broke the news of the deal on his Twitter account, iamdiddy, which has 9.5 million followers. “BREAKING NEWS!!The WORLD’S BEST tequila has arrived ppl! The @DeleonTequila wave starts NOW! #DeleonTequila READ THIS” he said with a link to a story on the deal.
Larry Schwartz, Diageo’s north America president, said: “Expanding our relationship with Sean Combs into tequila was a natural choice given Sean’s ability to galvanise support for luxury brands, as we’ve seen with our work together on Cîroc.”
Sales of Cîroc have grown from 50,000 nine-litre cases a year to nearly 2m since Combs started promoting the brand and dubbing himself “Cîroc Obama” in 2007.
Just 10,000 nine-litre cases of DeLeon were sold last year. The cheapest of the bottles, which are shaped like perfume bottles, sells for $120. The most expensive Leóna variety costs up to $1,000 a bottle.
Diageo immediately closed down DeLeon’s risqué website while the pair formulate a new brand strategy. The company has been looking for new tequila ventures since it stopped selling Jose Cuervo, the world’s biggest tequila by sales, last year. It is now distributed by Proximo Spirits.
Diageo also owns another upmarket tequila, Don Julio. Diageo said US sales of luxury tequila have increased by 49% over the last three years.
DeLeon, which is certified 100% blue weber agave tequila, is produced in the town of Purísima del Rincón in the Mexican state of Guanajuato. The town, named after the Immaculate Conception, translates literally as “purest of the corner.”
Combs, who runs a sprawling business empire stretching from music to clothes and perfume, said: “Celebration is a cornerstone of all my businesses.”
He is not the first celebrity with his own tequila. Justin Timberlake has co-founded 901 tequila and George Clooney owns a stake in Casamigos tequila.
He will be the first hip hop billionaire with this deal in no time.