Oop. Longtime clients Motel 6, and now Home Depot, have fired The Richards Group for racist remarks reportedly made by 88-year-old founder Stan Richards. According to Advertising Age, during a creative review for its 34-year-old client Motel 6, Richards allegedly said a new campaign was “too Black” and would not resonate with motel chain’s “significant white supremacist constituents.”
While the chain did not actually confirm the remark, it did release a statement”
“We are outraged by the statements made about Motel 6 and our customers by a member of The Richards Group during one of its internal meetings. The comments were not only completely inaccurate, they are also in direct opposition of our values and beliefs as an organization. Upon learning of these comments, we terminated our relationship with The Richards Group, effective immediately. We are a company who embraces diversity of all forms and have a zero tolerance policy for hateful comments of any kind, whether that be within our organization, at third party vendors or at our properties. We will continue to work every day to ensure every one of our guests and employees is treated with the utmost respect.”
Ad Age’s story went on to say Richards’ remark came during a remote internal meeting on October 8 which was attended by approximately 40 people. The new campaign which was presented celebrated Black Artists. Richards then made his comment.
Some of the stunned group then asked Richards to clarify what he meant and the founder supposedly claimed he had another meeting and hung up.
As news spread throughout the agency, Richards’ successor Glenn Dady was asked to get involved, urging his predecessor to issue an apology to those on the call ASAP. According to two people on the call, Richards did, but it was described as, “half-assed.”
Pressure continued to mount causing Richards to issue a brief second apology to the 750-person Dallas shop. It too, came across as inauthentic and insensitive. One employee told Ad Age, “I was surprised because it was just so blatant and tone deaf and detached from the summer we’ve had. This was definitely an egregious situation.”
The agency finally issued a statement from Stan Richards, who has yet to step down:
“Last week, we were reviewing creative for what was to be a multicultural campaign for one of our clients. 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.’ To be clear, though, I have never used racial slurs about any ethnic group nor tolerated it from anyone around me. Those words were said innocently, but they were hurtful to members of our staff. I have apologized for that, as I should have. Having spent much of my adult life fighting prejudice, I should have known better.”
Motel 6 has been a client for so long that when you exit the ground floor elevator at the Richards Group, a recording of spokesman Tom Bodett says, “We’ll leave the light on for you.”
Home Depot Moves
But the fallout has not stopped with Motel 6. Today, Home Depot, a Richards’ client for 25 years, has announced they are searching for a new advertising partner.
“We do not tolerate discrimination in any form, so we were shocked and saddened when we learned of this incident. We have immediately begun the process of finding a new advertising agency,” a Home Depot spokeswoman said in a statement.
We have covered the work of the Richards Group for some time here at Reel 360. They do good work and are good people. The 750-person staff should not pay, especially in a time of COVID and high unemployment, for the remarks of an old man who is clearly out of touch.
SOURCE: Ad Age