Stan Richards quits Dallas-based advertising company for ‘too dark’ remarks

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Stan Richards leaves his namesake Dallas advertising and marketing agency after a week of internal turmoil and broken business partnerships over his race-insensitive comments on a proposed Motel 6 ad campaign.

Richards, who turns 88 on Nov. 8, announced the move Thursday afternoon to the company’s 650 employees via Zoom, in hopes of stopping the bleeding that saw Motel 6, Home Depot, Keurig Dr Pepper and HEB sever ties with The Richards Group. the last two days. Motel 6’s iconic slogan “We’ll leave the light on for you” in 1986 is what propelled Richards’ company into the nation’s largest independent agency.

In an interview with Le Dallas Morning News, Richards said the exodus was understandable. He said if The Richards Group had been a public company, he would have been fired by now.

“I’m leaving the agency,” he says.

Controversy erupted this week over Richards’ description of a Motel 6 campaign concept as “too black” for the “white supremacist voters” of the Carrollton-based chain of motels. His remarks came during an internal meeting at the agency about an idea to celebrate black artists in a Motel 6 campaign. The motel operator quickly cut ties with Richards’ business after his comments were made public.

On Wednesday, he apologized for “using words that I regret very much, including three that I should never have said:” It’s too dark “.

Richards a dit The news he transferred ownership of the business about eight months ago to a non-profit organization he would not have identified. He said the non-profit organization is contractually obligated not to interfere in the agency’s operations. He first discussed the idea in 2015 as an exit strategy.

Richards said he will have “no role in the business” from Thursday and that his successor Glenn Dady will oversee operations.

Richards ran the business with what has been described as a “fiercely independent” mindset.

Stan Richards, founder of the Richards Group, visits the Dallas Morning News in his Dallas office on Thursday, October 15, 2020. (Tom Fox / The Dallas Morning News) (Tom Fox / photographer)

But in December 2019, Richards ceded day-to-day control to his handpicked successor, Dady, a 40-year veteran of the company. But Richards said he plans to stay involved and never saw himself retire.

Despite his age, Richards had previously said he would continue to do the job “until I croak”.

His list of honors is as long as his term. In 2017, he was inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame of the American Advertising Federation. In 2014, the University of Texas bestowed its name on its school of advertising and public relations – Richards called it “the greatest honor I have received in a long professional life.”

This week, the university announced that it plans to speak directly with Richards about its remarks and listen to concerns raised by faculty, staff and students before deciding “how best to respond in accordance with our values”.

Richards a dit The news that in the immediate future he will focus on his relationship with the University of Texas.

“I will be focusing my attention on this school a lot, helping it to be as effective as possible in attracting the best students,” said Richards.

The fact that the university’s public relations school wanted to take his name was something Richards was most proud of, he said.

Richards moved to Dallas in the early 1950s after graduating from the Pratt Institute in New York. He briefly worked for an agency, then freelance graphic design work and eventually turned his business into a full-fledged marketing agency.

In 2016, when Chick-fil-A left her agency after 22 years of running, Richards described it as more of an emotional blow than a financial one. His team imagined the “Eat Mor Chikin” cow campaign in 1995 and it is considered one of the most iconic in the history of fast food.

Richards Group has also created campaigns for hundreds of brands over the decades, including Go RVing, Biltmore Estate, NatureSweet Tomatoes, Sub-Zero, Wolf, Jeep, Ram and Alfa Romeo.

The revenue of the Richards Group was around $ 200 million in 2019.

Now that more and more clients are leaving the agency with each passing day, Richards admits the company will have to make cuts.

“The business is going to have to get smaller. There is no doubt about it, because a considerable part of our income has disappeared. And so we’ll have to adjust the dimensions of that, ”Richards said.

Stan Richards, founder of advertising agency The Richards Group, chats with The Dallas Morning News at the company's Dallas offices on Friday, July 22, 2016. Chick-fil-A has a 22-year relationship with The Richards Group.  The rocking cow was given to Richards by Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-A.  (Andy Jacobsohn / The Dallas Morning News)
Log on in Times Square congratulates Dallas advertising icon Stan Richards on his induction into the American Advertising Federation Hall of Fame on April 25.
Which non-profit organization will inherit Stan Richards' company and who will lead The Richards Group after he leaves?  Richards doesn't say it, but he has a plan that guarantees independence.

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