Stan Richards said something he wishes he had not said. It’s personally embarrassing and it’s costing his agency money.
According to The Dallas Morning News, Richards described a new ad pitch for long-time client, Motel 6, as being “too black” for the motel operator’s “white supremacist audience.”
According to Ad Age, the remarks were heard by about 40 Richards Group employees attending a remote internal meeting on October 8th. Employees had pitched an idea celebrating black artists.
The Richards Group, which has more than 650 employees, pro-actively notified Motel 6 about the incident Monday. No word on why they chose to do that. The client soon thereafter parted ways with their agency partner of many years.
Stan Says He’s Sorry
“Last week, we were reviewing creative for what was to be a multicultural campaign for one of our clients,” Richards said in a statement. “Two of our creatives, both white, presented a direction I thought was not multiculturally inclusive enough, I misspoke and commented using words I greatly regret, including three I never should have said: ‘It’s too black.’ ”
“Having spent much of my adult life fighting (against) prejudice, I should have known better,” he added.
There was speculation within the agency that Richards might step down, but it was quickly announced that Richards would remain at the shop, but “each director will decide how involved he will be with their clients.”
Slapping the hand that feeds you… That’s an unnatural response.
There’s no defending his comments, particularly when removed from the context of an internal creative review. There is defending his reputation as one of the great advertising professionals of our time.
There is also a need for ad pros to speak openly and intelligently about the work, no matter what. What if Richards had asked, “Are we casting a wide enough net to appeal to all Motel 6 customers?”
Asking questions instead of making declarations is almost always the right way to go.
So Much Sucky Suck
I don’t like this story.
I don’t like that Stan Richards said these things.
I don’t like the politically correct whiplash as an autoresponse.
Now, Home Depot—another longtime client of The Richards Group—is claiming that they’re equally outraged and therefore pulling their account.
May I ask, did Richards ever offend anyone at Home Depot or inside the agency with racist remarks before? If he did, the avalanche is on. If he did not, then why pull the account?
Faux outrage smells, and the foul smell spreads.
Understanding Is In Such Short Supply Today
This is what the home page of the agency’s website looks like right now:
Forgiveness is the pathway to grace.
Richards is an 88-year old white man. Is he also a racist and a monster? An uncaring fool?
I don’t know the man, but I highly doubt that he’s a racist or a monster. He could well be out of touch. He’s human and like me and you, we don’t always know everything or do everything right.
Cracker Barrel Peels Off
This just in, Cracker Barrel has dropped Richards Group from its agency review.
I wonder, when did the people who run Cracker Barrel, Home Depot, and Motel 6 begin to care so deeply about diversity and inclusion? Was it this summer? Was it this week? Will they continue to care, and more importantly, start to do something about it inside their own companies? Or is corporate virtue signaling enough?
Just two years ago, Motel 6 agreed to pay $7.6 million to settle a class-action lawsuit after multiple Motel 6 locations gave guest lists to Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. There’s plenty of blame (and ass-covering) to go around, and there’s also a factual basis for Richards’ errant words.