H-E-B, Shiner Spoetzl Brewery fires ad agency over founder’s ‘too black’ remarks

Dr Pepper, Motel 6 and several other clients have bowed out of long-standing relationships with the agency

Richards Group's headquarters in Uptown Dallas. (Google Maps)

DALLAS – H-E-B and the Spoetzl Brewery, the brewers of Shiner beers, are the latest in a growing list of companies who have terminated their relationship with the Richards Group — an advertising agency based in Dallas, Texas — after the group’s founder made “racially insensitive comments.”

According to a report from Texas Monthly, Richards group founder Stan Richards called a proposed ad campaign for client Motel 6 “too Black” for the motel chain’s “white supremacist constituents” during a Zoom call with about 40 employees last week.

San Antonio-based grocery giant H-E-B said in a statement that the remarks made by Stan Richards, the agency’s founder, do not represent the company’s beliefs.

“At H-E-B, each and every person counts, and we proudly embrace this belief throughout our company. The derogatory and racially charged remarks made by Stan Richards have no place at H-E-B or in the communities we serve,” H-E-B said in a statement to KSAT. “As soon as we learned about this egregious incident, we commenced discussions with The Richards Group and have since ended our business relationship with the agency.”

According to a press release sent by Shiner on Tuesday, the decision to end the partnership with the agency was based solely on the comments made by Richards.

“The Spoetzl Brewery values diversity, equality, and inclusion, and we expect all of our employees and partners to share in these values,” the brewery said in a press release. “For this reason, the decision has been made to end our partnership with The Richards Group effective immediately.”

Motel 6 terminated their relationship with the agency following the comments and said in a statement that they were “outraged” by Richard’s statements.

Dr. Pepper and several other clients have also bowed out of long-standing relationships with the agency.

Richards told hundreds of agency employees on a subsequent Zoom call that he is “firing himself,” the Dallas Morning News reported.

Texas Monthly reported that the Richards Group is the largest independent advertising and marketing agency in the U.S. and lost 40% of its business within a week.

The Richards Group has removed its founder’s biography page from their site (see below via an Internet archive).

Now-deleted bio page for Stan Richards from the Richards Group website. (Internet Archive/Google)

On the company website, a pop-up window displays the following reactions from one of the agency’s principals and creative director, Glenn Dady:

“In the over four decades I have had the privilege of working at The Richards Group, the agency has never been party to nor tolerated racism in any form. We exist to endear brands to all people. Our brand has been tarnished. Like all businesses and organizations, we have a lot of work to do to further societal change. As the person now responsible for all the operations of The Richards Group going forward, I commit to doing everything in my power to stay focused on that goal. We understand and regret the pain and concerns of all those who were deeply troubled by the words our founder spoke. He can’t take them back. We can only ask for forgiveness and promise to learn and be better. We ask our many friends for understanding and prayers as we move forward."

Related: Shiner launching zero-carb, 90-calorie hard seltzer

About the Author:

Jakob Rodriguez is a digital journalist at KSAT 12. He's a graduate of Texas State University, where he served as the editor-in-chief of the student-run newspaper, The University Star.