Monday, 09 December 2019 09:54

The Infamous Peloton Ad: Key Insights To Improve Your Advertising In Denver

Hopefully by now, you’ve seen the notorious Peloton ad: “The Gift That Gives Back.” The 30-second holiday advertisement for the Peloton stationary bike has been widely condemned, mocked, and criticized. The entire saga unfolded within a week and it was an incredibly turbulent experience to watch from the sidelines. Even though it was an international ad, we believe that there are some lessons to be learned from it which could improve your advertising in Denver. As a leading ad agency in the Denver area, we wanted to share our thoughts on the Peloton ad.

Recapping The Peloton Ad Saga

Let’s briefly recap the chain of events before examining the marketing impacts of the Peloton holiday ad.

The Peloton ad, titled “The Gift That Gives Back,” is the product of the San Francisco-based creative agency Mekanism. It portrays a woman who is ecstatic to receive an exercise bike as a holiday gift from her husband. The wife then takes video selfies of her experiences exercising on the bike. The ad wraps up a year later as the wife gifts her husband a video of all her time on the Peloton bike. The ad began airing on TV on November 4 of this year, however the online criticism didn’t start until December began.


The Peloton ad lit the internet ablaze. The advertisement was decried far and wide, sparking a huge backlash. It has been widely perceived as sexist “male fantasy” ad which feels very detached from reality. After all, the woman in the ad was already quite fit and it seemed as though the husband just wanted her to be even skinnier. A great number of spoofs and memes were created, and even Saturday Night Live got in on the trend too.

Out of left field, Ryan Reynolds created a spin-off ad featuring the actress from the Peloton ad. Within a few days of the Peloton ad backlash, Reynolds tweeted out an ad for Aviation Gin, with the caption “Exercise bike not included.” The ad was centered on the Peloton actress staring blankly forward with a gin martini. Her surrounding friends tell her that she’s “safe here” and that she “looks great.” With no husband in sight, the ad closes with the actress saying “to new beginnings” before she downs her gin martini. Reynolds saw the opportunity to capitalize upon another brand’s failure and he took it.


The Impact On Peloton

The Peloton ad has undoubtedly damaged the brand. In the days following the criticism, the stock price of Peloton tumbled as much as 10%. We can fairly assume that the ad backlash will hurt their holiday sales as well. That sales hangover could even last well into the new year too. With so many competitors in the market, it’s difficult to know when the brand will be restored to its former glory.

It’s safe to say that the Peloton holiday ad has hurt their overall brand image. After all the Black Mirror comparisons and incredibly critical tweets, you can bet that many potential customers now view Peloton in a more negative light. Consumer trust has been damaged by this ad and rebuilding that trust will take a lot of time and energy.

Just to play devil’s advocate, we’d like to pose the question: “Was the backlash warranted?”

On the one hand, yes. The backlash was absolutely warranted. Today, consumers hold brands to much higher standards than in the past. Consumers want to see their personal beliefs and values embraced by larger brands. Your brand has to play to the essential core values of your target market if you hope to succeed. If a brand fails to embrace the cultural climate of the time, then why should the consumers buy into that brand?

An argument could also be made to defend the advertisement. After all, the Peloton ad is just a holiday ad. As leading provider of advertising in Denver, we’ve seen tons of different ads over the years. Some ads are brilliant, others are okay, and many of them are just terrible. We’ve seen a number of ads that are way more socially controversial than the Peloton ad (like that 2017 Pepsi ad with Kendall Jenner).

The ad was, of course, designed to sell more Peloton bikes. However, Peloton’s holiday ad also focuses on the idea of giving meaningful gifts to those that you love. Commercialism and expressive gift giving are essentially at the heart of the holiday season.

This does not mean that the Peloton ad was fine by any means. The advertisement enforced misogynistic norms, and in our hyper-aware world Peloton should’ve seen those glaring flaws. The ordeal demonstrates why advertisers need to pay close attention to the details and the social context of the stories that they tell. When you develop any advertising in Denver, your business needs to take into account the current cultural and societal climate.

What Reynolds Did Right

Throughout the Peloton ad saga, it seems like everyone gets hit hard. Peloton was clearly impacted, and the male and female actors received some harsh criticism as well. Still, the clear winners of this entire story are Ryan Reynolds and Aviation Gin.

Reynolds was able to turn an international backlash around to benefit his gin brand. Within just a few days, Reynolds threw together a quick 30-second ad and capitalized upon the failures of Peloton’s holiday ad. We’re positive that plenty of people will be drinking Aviation Gin to ring in the new year.

Even though his idea was a great success, it doesn’t mean your advertising in Denver should suddenly change gears to jump on a viral trend for a quick buck. It’s not easy to turn around a spur-of-the-moment ad in just a few days. Most high-quality video ads take several weeks, if not months to create. Not every small business can do what Aviation Gin did.

Instead, we believe that the lesson to be learned from Reynolds success revolves around the importance of social awareness. Think about it: Peloton is a fitness brand and Aviation Gin is an alcoholic beverage. No one could have ever predicted that the paths of these two brands would cross. Reynolds was able to recognize a market entry point from a controversial advertisement outside of his industry. Reynolds was paying attention and thinking about possibilities in the days following the ad controversy.

Take a lesson from Reynolds and start to keep your ear to the ground across a number of industries! Your advertising in Denver could see drastic improvements if you’re constantly looking for new opportunities and market entry points across industries.

We think that Reynolds’ success also speaks to how an ad doesn’t need to be part of a larger ad campaign. The gin ad was released via Twitter, on Reynolds’ personal account. It wasn’t part of a larger marketing effort. Rather, it was a unique one-time opportunity that he couldn’t pass up. One off ad spots like this can get great results when they’re executed well. However, you will often see greater success when your ads are a strategic piece of a larger advertising campaign.

Key Takeaways From The Peloton Ad To Improve Your Advertising In Denver

What a rollercoaster advertisement! There are plenty of lessons that you can pull out of this entire situation. If you’re looking to benefit your advertising in Denver, here’s what we think you should take away from the Peloton ad controversy:

  • Make sure your ads are tailored to the core values of your target market.

  • Be mindful of the social context of your ads and the current cultural climate.

  • Keep your ear to the ground to recognize PR opportunities for your brand.

  • Well executed ads don’t always need to be part of a larger marketing campaign.

Get Better Results With Strategic Advertising In Denver

Are you worried that your next advertising campaign will turn into a blunder? Then leave your advertising efforts to the professionals! At FiG Advertising + Marketing, we’ve played a significant role in a number of successful advertising campaigns across traditional and digital mediums. We’ll approach your ad campaign strategically and thoughtfully to ensure that you get the best ROI from effective advertising in Denver.

Contact FiG Advertising + Marketing today to learn how we can improve your advertising today.