Diddy taking a dip in vodka venture

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NEW YORK -- Sean "Diddy" Combs is adding liqueur to his list of mogul accolades and branding relationships.

Combs unveiled Wednesday what he called a "strategic alliance" with Ciroc Vodka, a brand owned by Diageo, the world's largest spirit company.

As part of the deal, which goes far beyond a traditional celebrity endorsement, Combs will make all brand management decisions and will get 50% of the brand's profits, which could be worth more than $100 million, according to Diageo. Under the partnership, Combs will lead marketing, advertising, public relations, product placement and events.

He stressed that the product will not just be marketed toward the hip-hop crowd, but toward everyone of drinking age.

"It's going to just be able to go after the (upwardly mobile) taste makers that are looking for something better," he said. For a start, Ciroc will be marketed to these taste makers as the official vodka of New Year's Eve, Combs said.

While he said he has been looking for the right alcoholic drink to put his name on for years, he hadn't found his perfect match until he tasted Ciroc vodka.

"I'm a vodka connoisseur," Combs said. "When I tasted Ciroc, it was the best-tasting vodka that I tasted."

The singer described the product as an organic fit with his other business ventures as well as his image of being the "king of celebration."

"I enjoy seeing people have a good time," Combs said. "That is my brand." But he also made it clear that he wants people to have a good time while drinking responsibly, and he committed to making that a priority in the marketing of Ciroc. "I will weave responsibility into everything we do," he said.
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