Advertisements from two different brands both feature the woman known as “the Peloton wife.” One prompted a PR disaster; the other drew widespread praise.
The original Peloton ad shows a young woman joyfully receiving the gift of an interactive Peloton stationary exercise bike from her husband. She then records herself regularly – or perhaps obsessively — riding the bike with her smartphone over the course. “A year, I didn’t’ realize how much this would change me. Thank you,” she concludes.
The ad went viral on social media, but not to Peloton’s benefit. Twitter users criticized the ad as sexist, elitist and unrealistic. The woman seemed under pressure to lose weight, they said, saying her facial expression appeared to show fear. Women said they’d seek a divorce if they were in her situation. Some saw incongruity in the ad’s conclusion. Already slim and attractive, she showed no change in appearance.
We were Misinterpreted
Bloomberg credited the ad for causing Peloton’s stock to drop up to 10%, although other factors may have been at play. A company spokesperson said the ad was misinterpreted and noted the “the outpouring of support we’ve received from those who understand what we were trying to communicate.”
Some experts defended Peloton, saying people were being oversensitive. The video was ill-conceived, but not sexist, stated Scott Mautz, CEO of Profound Performance, in Inc. The woman appeared timid, unconfident and in need of approval. Consumers don’t want to see the negative side of themselves. In addition, the product’s impact is unclear.
“If a company spokesperson ever uses the phrase ‘what we were trying to communicate,’ it’s not a good ad,” Mautz said.
Nonetheless, the wide earned and social media coverage of the controversy created much greater awareness of the Peloton exercise product – and probably greater audience attention the next time the ad aired. The company’s next earnings report should show if it created greater sales in addition to great controversy.
The Aviation Gin Response
Aviation Gin took advantage of the controversy with its own commercial. In that ad, the “Peloton woman,” portrayed by actress Monica Ruiz, stares blankly into the camera with a stunned look. She sits quietly as two friends comfort her as martinis sit in front of them. Keen observers might notice she’s missing her wedding ring.
“This gin is really smooth,” she says. Then raises a toast: “To new beginnings.”
As the commercial concludes with a photo of an Aviation Gin, one friend comments: “You look great by the way.”
The spot doesn’t mention Peloton directly, but actor and liquor brand owner Ryan Reynolds shared a link to the video on Twitter with the caption: “Exercise bike not included.”
Both marketing experts and consumers lauded the gin maker.
“In a maneuver that combined timeliness, meme culture, and a simple product message, Aviation managed to capitalize on another brand’s moment of infamy with striking success,” says Marketing Land Editor Taylor Peterson, saying the ad will be a case study on marketing genius for years to come.
The brand had to create the video swiftly before the Peloton Wife faded from social media’s short attention span. Only 15 days passed between the Peloton ad and Aviation Gin’s commercial. That kind of timeframe would be difficult to achieve in traditional TV advertising, which has longer turnaround times and stricter regulations regarding alcohol products, Peterson notes.
While this isn’t the first time a brand has referred to, mentioned of mocked another company’s product, the ad breaks new ground in social media marketing. Going forward, more brands may monitor social media to spot opportunities to mention or allude to other brands.
Bottom Line: Aviation Gin’s sly play off Peloton’s controversial exercise bike commercial drew widespread praise. The amusing incident shows how brands can benefit by getting their social media marketing in shape.
William J. Comcowich founded and served as CEO of CyberAlert LLC, the predecessor of Glean.info. He is currently serving as Interim CEO and member of the Board of Directors. Glean.info provides customized media monitoring, media measurement and analytics solutions across all types of traditional and social media.