SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Last week, Edmunds pulled an online advertising campaign designed to promote its Price Promise program after backlash from dealers. The campaign, which was launched on Oct. 20, included four YouTube videos that depict a cashier trying to overcharge customers for items at a grocery store, then haggling with shoppers who refused to pay.
At least one dealer group, Cincinnati-based Jeff Wyler Automotive Family, canceled its subscription to Edmunds after the videos were released — meaning the dealer group’s inventory will no longer be listed on the third party lead provider’s site.
“We did cancel Edmunds across the board, and this was kind of the straw that broke the camel's back,” E-commerce Director Kevin Frye told F&I and Showroom, noting that the cashier in the videos was clearly meant to portray an unscrupulous dealer. “We've been utilizing the Price Promise leads. We have sold cars, but we really haven't found any return on investment. So as we plan for 2015 ad budgets, they were already on the fence. And this campaign was … kind of the final decision maker.”
Edmunds’ Price Promise program issues shoppers a locked-in price for a vehicle to prevent haggling at the dealership. All four videos associated with the program were pulled from the company’s YouTube channel four days after they were posted on Oct. 23.
"Our digital videos illustrating the 'Absurdity of Haggling' missed the mark,” said Edmunds in a statement issued to F&I and Showroom. “Some of our partners were deeply insulted, expressing that our attempt at humor reinforced outdated stereotypes.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."
Despite Edmunds’ decision to pull the campaign, the Jeff Wyler Automotive Family does not plan to reconsider its subscription cancellation.
“It's really struck a chord,” Frye said. “There are a lot of dealers just like ourselves that work incredibly hard to improve the industry and raise it to a higher level and it just feels like … we get caged into this negative stereotype no matter what we do, because they can financially gain from it.”