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Fiat Chrysler becomes latest corporate giant to consider dropping Richards Group

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is the latest corporate giant to reconsider its relationship with a Dallas advertising agency that’s gone through a series of high-profile client defections following its founder’s racist remarks.

The Richards Group, which until recently was led by industry legend and founder Stan Richards, is in the midst of a crisis threatening to sink the firm over his widely reported comments that proposed ads for Carrollton-based Motel 6 were “too Black” and could turn off “its white supremacist constituents.”

An FCA executive who leads the automaker’s advertising efforts said the company is weighing its partnership in light of the situation.

“FCA believes hate speech and racism of any kind must never be tolerated,” chief marketing officer Olivier Francois said in a statement. “We have reached out to The Richards Group, as one of the many creative agencies on FCA’s marketing roster, and we are in the process of evaluating our relationship with them to determine what the partnership will look like moving forward.”

FCA works with a number of agencies, but the Richards Group has helped the company create some of its more notable ads. One of the company’s most celebrated spots, for Ram trucks during Super Bowl XLVII in 2013, featured the voice of the late radio broadcaster Paul Harvey reciting his touching “So God Made a Farmer” speech.

Last year the Richards Group helped FCA create a “visual narration” of “The Star-Spangled Banner” to music performed by OneRepublic for FCA’s Jeep brand. FCA noted that the “More Than Just Words” spot, which was part of a non-TV ad plan for that year’s Super Bowl, had more than 106 million online views.

The list of companies that have dropped the Richards Group in the ensuing firestorm includes Motel 6, Home Depot, Orkin, Keurig, Dr Pepper and Advance Auto Parts.

Richards stepped aside last month, saying he was “firing” himself.

“If this was a publicly held company, I’d be fired for the comments I made. But we’re not public, so I am firing myself. Our employees, first and foremost, deserve that,” Richards said at the time. “I made a mistake. The biggest mistake of my life. One I will never be able to adequately explain or take back. All I can say is that I was wrong.”

Richards also posted an apology video to faculty, staff and students at the University of Texas at Austin Moody College of Communication, saying that he has never used racist slurs about any ethnic group and does not support white supremacy. The university’s advertising school carries his name.

The company, which brought in $200 million in revenue last year, is now being run by Glenn Dady, a longtime executive who Richards selected last year as his successor.

Read More: Fiat Chrysler becomes latest corporate giant to consider dropping Richards Group

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