The ad industry was rocked this year by a global pandemic, causing marketing plans to freeze, budgets to be slashed and a slew of agency layoffs. Amid the turmoil, several high-profile scandals further shocked the system.
Stan Richards steps down over racist remark
Probably the most infamous of offenses was Stan Richards' decision to step down in October from the agency he founded in 1976 after a racist comment he made in an internal ad review was surfaced (See Biggest agency implosion of 2020). Richards said in the internal review that a creative concept for client Motel 6 was "too Black" and that it risked alienating the chain's "white supremacist constituents." Following the remark, a string of clients departed, including Motel 6, Home Depot, Keurig Dr Pepper, Orkin, H.E.B. and Advance Auto Parts. Motel 6 has since hired a new creative agency of record, Barkley, following a review launched before the incident.
The Richards Group has also started to see employees leave. Among them are Kyle Kelley and Andrew Harper, who clocked in more than 10 years, most recently as creative group heads, who left in November to become executive creative directors at PMG.