Insights / advertising

Peloton’s New Ad Is a PR Nightmare

Peloton’s new bike commercial has sparked a public relations nightmare for the fitness company. The ad shows a woman receiving a Peloton as a holiday gift and capturing her fitness progress through a yearlong selfie video journal. This is all fine, people do this all the time in the era of Instagram and Facebook, sharing photos of their fitness progress. People are reacting to the moment when she’s sitting on the couch with her partner at the end of the year and says:

“A year ago, I didn’t realize how much this would change me. Thank you.”

The social media chatter is on fire, comparing the woman in the ad to someone suffering from Stockholm Syndrome to a woman’s cry for help to divorce threats and a controlling husband. Have a look for yourself.

We’re living in a different world now where advertisers need to be aware of the sensitivities and the nuances of how ads can be interpreted – or misinterpreted.

The key takeaway here? Test your advertising and message to see how it resonates with an audience. This can easily be done with some small Facebook ad testing to larger market broadcast, depending on your budget. Perhaps Peloton did this, but based on the public reaction, we doubt it.

In an era where social media connects brands to its audience, they decided to bury their heads in the sand by turning off the YouTube comments. It is worth noting that Peloton says it’s “disappointed by how its viral ad was misinterpreted.” What do you think?


P.S. Celebrity Ryan Reynolds acted fast and recruited the star of the ad for his Aviation Gin ad. Have a look here.