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Motel 6 Radio: The Making, and Undoing, of a Classic

How The Richards Group kept its iconic campaign going for 34 years, then lost it all

The Richards Group’s celebrated radio campaign for Motel 6, featuring the dry humor of Tom Bodett, launched in 1986 and continued, practically unchanged, for 34 years—one of the most enduring agency-client partnerships in advertising. But then, one day last October, it all came crashing down, due to a racist remark from Stan Richards that got the agency fired from its prized account.

On this extra episode of Tagline for Season 1, we trace the entire history of the campaign—from the moment David Fowler first heard Bodett on NPR, all the way to the present day. We talk to Fowler, Bodett and Tom Faulkner about bringing the campaign to life in the mid-'80s; Thomas Hripko, Chris Smith, Wendy Mayes and Rachel Dawer about how they evolved it later; and Motel 6 CEO Rob Palleschi about where the campaign is headed this summer under new agency Barkley.

Listen to the episode above, or subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts.

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Every day, millions of Americans get in their vehicles and go. Fueling drives commutes, commerce and connection; and that's when we have the undivided attention of 1 in 3 adults every month. GSTV's national video network owns a unique moment for innovative storytelling, when consumers are engaged, receptive, taking action today and influenced for tomorrow and beyond. Fuel your next campaign with us.

Episode 10 guests

• David Fowler, executive creative director
• Tom Bodett, author, voice actor, humorist
• Tom Faulkner, musician
• Thomas Hripko, founder and executive creative director/copywriter, silent H
• Chris Smith, principal and chief creative officer, ‎Plot Twist Creativity
• Wendy Mayes, creative director/copywriter, Plot Twist Creativity
• Rachel Dawer, senior copywriter, Plot Twist Creativity
• Rob Palleschi, CEO, Motel 6

Brand Text
Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd was editor in chief of the Clio Awards and editor of Muse by Clio from 2018 to 2023.

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