Workout brand Peloton has no plans to pull to its much-maligned holiday ad, despite enduring 48 hours of social and media mockery timed with a tanking stock price.
Peloton, which founder John Foley describes as “an interactive media company”, stuck to its tried-and-tested aspirational formula with this year’s holiday ad, which features a beautiful wife in a beautiful house becoming ostensibly more fulfilled by the stationary bike bought for her by her husband.
‘The Gift That Gives Back’ was subsequently put through the creative ringer on Twitter. Comedians were quick to parody the so-called ‘Peloton Wife’s’ thinly veiled desperation, calling into question how sincere it is to gift a weight-loss apparatus.
Meanwhile, the advertising community questioned who exactly the spot was aimed at, given the fact its highly aspirational direction smothered everything else in the narrative.
"While the ad has been accused of being tone-deaf, its greater mistake is in creating a consumer that virtually no one can relate with,” said Shahla Hebets, founder and chief executive of Think Media Consulting.
“A perfectly fit woman who gets an exercise bike for Christmas, vlogs about it and then shares her appreciation with her husband through her vlog sounds about as real-life as a Disney princess movie. It is simply too contrived and inauthentic for today’s consumer."
However, the company appears to be standing by the creative, despite some analysts predicting the spot would get spiked.
In a statement to CNBC, a spokesperson said: “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,”
“Our holiday spot was created to celebrate 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.”
The brand also shared emails it had been sent by supporters to CNBC and The New York Times.
Despite the “outpouring” of support, Peloton’s stock dropped by 9% today (4 December). Some attributed the poor trading performance to the adverse reaction to the ad, while others discounted it as a coincidence in timing: Peloton only went public in September and its first tank was likely to happen in the days after sales hit highs on Black Friday.
This is not the first time Peloton’s ads have been ridiculed either. Clue Heywood’s tweet thread, which began ‘Love putting my Peloton bike in the most striking area of my ultra-modern $3m house’, was a satire of the ultra-expensive houses featured in the brand’s communications.
According to its IPO filing, Peloton has doubled its annual marketing spend since 2017. This year, it spent $324m on marketing in order to sell more of its bikes and workout subscriptions.