Edmunds.com pulled a series of YouTube ads this afternoon after auto dealers threatened to pull their business from the auto-shopping site.
Edmunds.com President Seth Berkowitz said in a statement: "Our digital videos illustrating the 'Absurdity of Haggling' missed the mark. Some of our partners were deeply insulted, expressing that our attempt at humor reinforced outdated stereotypes. That was obviously never our intent. It has created a distraction from our business of helping to make car shopping easier. We are terminating the videos and getting back to working with our dealer partners to improve the car buying process for car shoppers around the country."
Ad Age sibling Automotive News reported earlier today that a number of dealers were took issue with the ads, which they claim suggested auto dealers were unethical hagglers. The spots, created by Publicis Kaplan Thaler, show a grocery store clerk trying to negotiate prices of milk, squash and other items with unsuspecting shoppers.
Kevin Frye, e-commerce director for the 15-store Jeff Wyler Automotive Family in Cincinnati, said that he would cancel the Wyler dealership group's Edmunds.com subscriptions. Dealers pay Edmunds to post their inventory online.
"For 41 years, the Jeff Wyler Automotive Family has been committed to practicing business at the highest levels of integrity," said Jeff Wyler, CEO of the Wyler group. "Negotiating prices on cars has always been expected by the consumer and having it referred to as 'haggling' by a company that I am a customer of is insulting."
Edmunds.com CMO Michelle Denogean told Automotive News that the spots were intended to be humorous and were based on outdated stereotypes.
--With reporting from David Barkholz of Automotive News