Peddle Past The Cringe
December 5th, 2019 – You know that feeling when you don’t want a lot for Christmas and you won’t even wish for snow, but then your husband buys you a $2,245 exercise bike and you’re forced to record yourself getting fit all year long? One distressed, but determined, actor certainly knows that role thanks to Peloton’s new, bizarre viral ad.
Peloton has released several inspirational ads for their high-end exercise products over the years, but they’ve never had one take off the way their holiday video did. The 30-second spot is being mocked online by many people who called it sexist and classist, and view the woman as more of a hostage than a thankful gift-receiver.
Set to Tal Bachman’s “She’s So High,” the ad begins with a familiar Christmas morning scene. “Peloton Wife” (as she is now known) is being guided into a beautifully decorated living room by her daughter as her husband asks her if she’s ready for her gift. “A Peloton?!” she exclaims when she opens her eyes.
The audience then watches as she films herself using the bike throughout the year. With fear in her eyes, she narrates the first spin.
“Alright, first ride. I’m a little nervous but excited. Let’s do this.”
The montage continues with the audience living in her phone as she powers through the year.
“A year ago, I didn’t realize how much this would change me. Thank you.”
At the end of the spot, we see Peloton wife sitting on the couch with non-Peloton husband watching the compilation she’s recorded over the year. The ad has now been viewed over 4 million times on Youtube and a parody from comedian Eva Victor has nearly the same amount on Twitter.
In Victor’s version, she also receives a Peloton from her husband but sarcastically points out the absurdity of it all throughout her video documentation.
“OK, my first ride. I’m a little bit nervous and rightly so because my husband got me a fucking workout bike for Christmas and that’s rude. let’s go,” she says. “Six days in a row! Are you surprised? I am…that my marriage is still intact.”
Victor’s take ends with giving her husband divorce papers instead of a loving gaze.
when my husband gets me a Peleton for Christmas …….. pic.twitter.com/Z2d3ewMhPu
— Eva Victor (@evaandheriud) December 2, 2019
While they may not have gained as much traction as Victor, plenty of other people joined in on the mockery. Some people took a more serious approach, placing blame on sexism and the copywriter/director of the ad while others didn’t see why the ad riled people up to begin with.
“If you want to empower people, include them in the process. Have diverse creative, agency and brand teams. Diversify reviewers and approvers. Test for qualitative takeaways from your intended audience to look for unintended messages,” Amy Vaughan wrote for AdWeek. “Then, be sure your insights are deep and true to your audience. They want to feel seen and heard, not undervalued and exposed.”
basic rules for copywriting:
who’s it for?
what do they want?
how does the product deliver that?
good copywriting makes the reader the star… the hero of their own journey. not the product.
and definitely not a weird, mute, gift-purchaser stand-in like peloton did.
— Amy Hoy (@amyhoy) December 5, 2019
Nothing says “maybe you should lose a few pounds” like gifting your already rail thin life partner a Peloton pic.twitter.com/E2M9gFdD5A
— Siraj Hashmi (@SirajAHashmi) December 2, 2019
— Honorable Rod Shaw (@aswadrodz) December 3, 2019
I finally just saw this “controversial” Peloton ad…My wife and I got one two years ago…We have loved it ever since…Are people really this desperate to be offended…Getting healthier via fitness is not controversial…its science pic.twitter.com/YUMyR2TKdi
— Joel Klatt (@joelklatt) December 6, 2019
For their part, Peloton is defending the ad, despite a stock market dip, saying that people are misinterpreting the concept.
“We constantly hear from our members how their lives have been meaningfully and positively impacted after purchasing or being gifted a Peloton Bike or Tread, often in ways that surprise them,” a Peloton spokesperson said in a statement. “Our holiday spot was created to that fitness and wellness journey. While we’re disappointed in how some have misinterpreted this commercial, we are encouraged by — and grateful for — the outpouring of support we’ve received from those who understand what we were trying to communicate.”