Opinion: Peloton ad is the gift no one wanted

The popular exercise equipment brand has come under fire in the media for their holiday commercial.




Krystin Langer, Columnist

As someone hoping to break into the advertising industry one day, I find myself intently watching the TV between the scenes of my favorite shows.

So, when I first watched the recent Peloton commercial, I was in awe of the sheer stupidity of the ad’s message.

What was possibly meant to portray a loving husband gifting his wife a piece of exercise equipment has been interpreted by viewers as both offensive and unsettling, and with good reason.

“The problem seems to be centered on the idea that the man, like a villain from a Bavarian fairy tale, has thrust the Peloton upon his already-in-shape partner — that he believes she needs to get fitter (though she’s already plenty fit),” wrote Vox’s Alex Abad-Santos.

Every holiday season, consumers are bombarded by hundreds of advertisers that aim to convince them to buy the year’s hottest ticket item for either themselves or a loved one. All of the big name companies such as Apple and Target take part in this tradition. And while some are successfully remembered by their potential customers in a positive way, others are not so lucky. Every year one or more of these advertisements miss the mark, either being branded as discriminatory or lacking in originality.

This year’s corporate victim was exercise-equipment brand Peloton. While it is unclear what the main intention was behind the awkward, lifetime cinematic drama of the commercial, the social-media world is not having it.

Part of the controversy regarding the ad revolves around the disturbingly anxious expression on the woman’s face and her seemingly desperate attempts to please her spouse.

Twitter has also reacted to the ad, with some users commenting on the possible marital status of the portrayed couple.

A video by comedian Eva Victor joked buying one’s spouse a Peloton for Christmas could signal the end of the marriage.

In addition to the actors in the commercial facing negative feedback, Peloton itself is also dealing with a significant backlash from the flop.

However, while critics may be labeling the commercial as misogynistic and sexist, a Peloton company spokesperson issued a statement claiming that it’s not that serious.

“Our holiday spot was created to celebrate that fitness and wellness journey,” the statement said. “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.”

Regardless of the negative attention surrounding this ad, the brand still predicts a high number of sales this Christmas.

While Peloton may pretend that everything is going fine — not unlike the woman in their poorly conceived ad — the company is going to have to sweat it out this holiday season.