Keurig Dr Pepper, Salvation Army and H-E-B Are Latest to Cut Ties With The Richards Group

Their decisions come after Motel 6 fired the agency upon learning about racial remarks made by its founder

The client exodus at The Richards Group continues. Keurig Dr. Pepper, H-E-B, The Salvation Army, The Richards Group
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Keurig Dr Pepper, The Salvation Army and H-E-B, a grocery store chain in Texas, have ended their relationships with The Richards Group.

Their decisions come days after Motel 6, one of the agency’s longtime clients, fired The Richards Group upon learning that its founder, Stan Richards, called an ad concept for the hotel chain “too Black” and suggested that its customers are white supremacists. Home Depot has also stopped working with the agency as a result.

“At H-E-B, each and every person counts, and we proudly embrace this belief throughout our company and the communities we serve,” the company said in a statement. “The derogatory and racially charged remarks made by Stan Richards have no place at H-E-B nor in the communities we serve. As soon as we learned about this egregious situation we commenced discussions with TRG and have since ended our business relationship with The Richards Group.”

A spokesperson for Keurig Dr Pepper, which owns soft drink brands including Sunkist and A&W, said in a statement that it stands against “discriminatory acts or speech of any kind and expect everyone associated with our business to hold themselves to the same standards. As a result, we are ending our work with The Richards Group.”

Keurig Dr Pepper’s spokesperson added that the agency has done select project work for a number of its brands. The independent agency created various campaigns for H-E-B throughout their partnership, including many commercials starring the San Antonio Spurs.

The Salvation Army, which has worked with the agency since 2005, said in a statement regarding cutting ties with The Richards Group, “Based upon further information and extensive consultations, The Salvation Army has determined that it will sever its relationship with The Richards Group. The statements made by Mr. Stan Richards are hurtful to everyone and in complete conflict with the fulfillment of our mission to meet human needs in Christ’s name without discrimination. The Salvation Army is and always will be committed to diversity, equity and inclusivity in every aspect of our work, and we remain focused on providing hope and help to millions of Americans in need.”

Following Motel 6’s decision to terminate its partnership with the agency, which lasted more than 30 years, Richards sent a statement to Adweek regarding his remarks.

He did not mention the white supremacy comments, but said that during a recent meeting in which he was reviewing a multicultural campaign for the client, he “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.”

In December, Richards named Glenn Dady, who joined the agency in 1980, as his successor. Dady, principal and creative director at The Richards Group, began managing the agency’s day-to-day operations at the start of this year. According to The Richards Group, “all” agency operations are now being run by Dady, but Richards is still with the agency, which he has owned since its inception.

@Minda_Smiley Minda Smiley is an agencies reporter at Adweek.