Richards drops client

The Richards Group of Dallas tossed its $10-million Whataburger account a little over a week ago, resigning the business over what it said were creative differences with the fast-food chain’s vp of marketing. President Stan Richards confirmed the resignation.
Sources said the agency will now pursue a fast-food account. Stan Richards acknowledged that he received a questionnaire late last week from one fast-food chain he would not name.
One source said that Richards resigned the Whataburger account so it could get into the huge $160 million review for Burger King’s national image account. But Richards denied this.
“Burger King chose not to include us in the review, and we are not going to pursue that account,” he said, although he noted that the shop had received a questionnaire from the fast-food giant and had received permission from Whataburger to pitch the account.
Source in the agency said that the shop and the client were at odds over creative. Sources said Whataburger’s marketing vp of one year, Bill Coston, was tampering with copy and generally man-handling creative in ways that some felt “didn’t make sense.” After a year of trying to work things out, one source said, the group felt compelled to resign the account.
Calls made to Whataburger’s president and ceo, Jim Peterson, and vp of marketing Coston were not returned at press time.
Richards has had a long but sometimes troubled marriage with Whataburger since it became the chain’s national agency in 1979. Whataburger fired Richards in 1986 after the shop nabbed the account of Dallas-based El Chico Corp. Mexican restaurant chain. At that time, Whataburger had a very strict rule against its agency handling other restaurant business.
The two reunited in 1990, and Richards kept El Chico and TGI Friday’s restaurants. Whataburger consolidated its entire account with Richards, resulting in a loss of business for nine agencies. All was well, according to sources, until Coston came on the scene last year.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)