Stan Richards Presents College of Communication Commencement Address
Richards Group founder speaks May 17
This spring, Stan Richards – one of Adweek's "Top Creatives," The Wall Street Journal's "Giants of Our Time" and founder of The Richards Group – said he looks forward to The University of Texas at Austin College of Communication's commencement. He said it's a time when bright and well-prepared graduates from the College often join his Dallas-based company, the largest independently-owned advertising agency in the U.S.
A 60-year veteran of the advertising industry, Richards will present the College's commencement address at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, May 17 at the Frank Erwin Center, 1701 Red River St. For details, click here.
"There is generally a very good work ethic among the kids out of The University of Texas at Austin," Richards said. "I presume it's largely because they've gone through demanding programs, so they're used to working hard. That's a huge advantage when they come into our field. We will work hard, work long hours and learn to deal with crises – quickly and effectively."
With a long history of supporting the College, Richards was an ideal choice for commencement speaker, said College Dean Roderick P. Hart.
"Richards is an absolute legend in the advertising world, and we are tremendously honored to welcome him as this year's commencement speaker," Hart said. "He has also been an ardent supporter of the College, whether through fascinating class presentations, invaluable service as an advisory council member or as a generous scholarship donor. His extraordinary leadership, work ethic and ingenuity are qualities that students from all disciplines can aspire to."
Among The Richards Group's recent successes is its Ram truck "Farmer" spot, named 2013’s best Super Bowl commercial by Adweek and YouTube's Ad Blitz Contest. The two-minute spot consists of an American farm slideshow coupled with a recording of Paul Harvey's 1978 "So God Made a Farmer" tribute. By Feb. 14, the ad had received more than 22 million views.
One aspect that made the spot successful was Paul Harvey's voice, Richards said. Super Bowl parties generally have a lot of conversation, but Richards said people paid attention when Harvey's voice hit the air.
"What he was talking about and what we were illustrating was important stuff, not a frivolous Super Bowl commercial," Richards said. "It takes tremendous courage on the part of the client to allow something like that to happen and to fund it. Most Super Bowl commercials are funny, high energy and upbeat… and this commercial was none of those things."
Other Richards Group clients include Bridgestone, Home Depot, Chick-fil-A, Motel 6, Orkin and The Salvation Army.
Richards said advertising as a profession was almost predetermined for him. As a child, he excelled in artwork, taking painting and drawing classes on Saturdays. When he found a class called "Commercial Art" in high school, Richards said it was the first time he had any inkling that he could make a living doing what he loved. He later graduated from the Pratt Institute and landed in Dallas, where he would found The Richards Group in 1965.
"'Mad Men' is an amazing characterization of what really existed then," Richards said. "There was a phoniness that existed in the industry that as far as I know has gone completely away."
Since the 1960s, Richards said the advertising industry gradually evolved until about 1995, when the Internet spurred major changes.
"It changed everything – what we do, how we do it, how we identify who the advertising is beamed at, how we reach people and the way in which we talk to them," Richards said. "It essentially turned the industry on its head. It was a major change in the business and the way we approach it."
Richards is a past recipient of the College's Robert C. Jeffrey Benefactor Award (2010) and the Reddick Award for Leadership in Communication (1996).
In addition to working in the advertising industry, Richards enjoys snow skiing, cycling and long-distance running. He is the author of "The Peaceable Kingdom: Building a company without factionalism, fiefdoms, fear and other staples of modern business."
Nick Hundley, (512) 471-7209