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Creative Director’s Choice: David Bates of Bokeh on the Peloton ad and Aviation Gin reaction


By Kyle O'Brien, Creative Works Editor

January 10, 2020 | 4 min read

Creative Director’s Choice gives creative directors a chance to highlight the best work and spotlight campaigns that are making a difference.

Monica Ruiz Aviation

Monica Ruiz stars in both the Peloton and Aviation Gin ads

This week, David Bates, chief executive officer and creative director at Bokeh, discusses the Peloton ad’s hubris and Aviation Gin’s sharply humorous response.

David Bates

This is a tale of two spots, and how using data to instruct creative without human self-awareness is dangerous.

It starts with Peloton’s much-maligned ‘The Gift that Gives Back.’ This is not an example of good creative; not from a storytelling perspective nor, in my assessment, a strategic one. It speaks to a brand so awash in hubris that it’s lost touch, at least at this moment, to the social and cultural environment it operates in.

Peloton: The Gift that Gives Back

By Peloton

Overall Rating 2/5

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From a data perspective, it likely checks off all the demographic boxes. Peloton’s target audience is likely between the ages of 35-65. They are probably majority white, middle/upper-middle-class families who live in nice, spacious homes in the suburbs. They have kids, have money (because a Peloton is not cheap), but lack time. With an eye toward diversity (millennials love diversity; we are also starting to come into our own economically after the ‘Great Recession’ which makes us a good target), Peloton cast a leading actress who can pass as 'ethnically-ambiguous.' Millennials also love to use digital tools to reinforce the human connection, so this story will culminate in a grateful, already-fit wife showing her husband a vlog of how much she appreciates the wellness journey he facilitated by gifting her a $2k bike.

Peloton followed the data points, captured the ire of social media, and compelled investors to suddenly question whether a brand so out of touch with reality may also be out of touch with its market value. Dope.

This brings us to the inverse – Aviation Gin’s ‘The Gift That Doesn’t Give Back.’ The data was right in front of them and they paid attention. They cast the same actress and built a script that channeled the public criticism of Peloton’s ad into a story that was simple, sarcastic and cathartic. It didn’t have to do much to be successful. It simply had to acknowledge what its target audience was actually feeling. It was aware of the social and cultural environment it operated in, and it spoke accordingly. That brings brand favor, and that means something. I’m not a gin connoisseur but I can promise you this: next time I find myself in the liquor aisle, I will keep an eye out for Aviation Gin.

Aviation Gin: The Gift That Doesn't Give Back

By Aviation Gin

Overall Rating 5/5

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David Bates is chief executive officer and creative director at video creative agency Bokeh in the San Francisco Bay Area.

See the work by clicking on the Creative Works box below.

To see the latest creative ads and campaigns, visit The Drum’s Creative Works section. If you or your creative director would like to be featured in our Creative Director’s Choice, please contact Kyle O’Brien.

Creative Director Creative Director's Choice Advertising

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