San Antonio grocer H-E-B latest to fire ad firm The Richards Group over founder's racist remarks

San Antonio grocer H-E-B latest to fire ad firm The Richards Group over founder's racist remarks
Courtesy Photo / H-E-B
San Antonio-based H-E-B, one of the nation's largest grocery chains, has become the latest corporation to sever ties with ad agency The Richards Group over reports of racist comments by its CEO.

Motel 6, Home Depot and Keurig Dr Pepper have all canned Dallas-based Richards Group in the wake of an Ad Age report that founder Stan Richards on a call discussing its Motel 6 account criticized a proposed ad showing guests of a variety of races as "too Black." Richards, an 87-year-old white man, also said the spot might offend the hotel chain's "white supremacist constituents," Ad Age also reported.

"The derogatory and racially charged remarks made by Stan Richards have no place at H-E-B nor in the communities we serve," H-E-B spokeswoman Dya Campos said in a statement emailed to the Current. "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."

The Richards Group has done work for H-E-B for around 20 years, including the grocer's long-running series of humorous ads featuring San Antonio Spurs players, which became local TV fixtures and picked up industry awards.

Campos wouldn't discuss the companies' financial relationship. However, H-E-B spent under $100 million on advertising in digital, print and national TV in the past year, according to industry website MediaRadar.

A Richards Group spokeswoman confirmed to the New York Times via email that the firm's founder made the “too Black” remark. However, she said he meant to convey that the ad “was not multiculturally inclusive enough.”

Richards apologized to agency’s employees Friday on a Zoom call, the Times also reports. A statement posted on the agency's website apologized for his remarks during the Motel 6 meeting.

"We understand and regret the pain and concerns of all those who were deeply troubled by the words our founder spoke," the apology states. "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.”

Privately owned H-E-B operates roughly 400 stores in Texas and Northern Mexico and has annual revenue of $28 billion, according to Forbes.

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Sanford Nowlin

Sanford Nowlin is editor-in-chief of the San Antonio Current.

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