What’s Wrong With Peloton’s Commercial?

Peloton’s Christmas commercial sparked plenty of backlash online when viewers perceived it as ‘sexist’ and ‘dystopian’, but they can recover.

Dec. 9, 2019

When exercise bike manufacturer Peloton (NASDAQ: PTON) released its 30-second advert – titled “The gift that gives back” – last week, its leadership probably didn’t expect that it would be running damage control on its public image. 

The advert — which has been viewed more than 4 million times on the company’s YouTube channel — depicts a woman receiving an exercise bike from her partner on Christmas morning. The gift then inspires the woman to vlog her experience over the following year, before proudly concluding: “A year ago I didn’t realize how much this would change me.”

Peloton’s stock price dropped 9% the next day and continued in a downward spiral over the following days with $1.5 billion dollars being wiped from Peloton’s market cap. Since Peloton’s IPO in October, the company had seen a steady rise.

Many viewers interpreted the controversial commercial in quite a sinister way, with most protesters criticizing the fact that the wife did not need to lose weight in the first place, and that it was patronizing for the husband to suggest this. The advert has even been compared to Charlie Brooker’s dystopian television series ‘Black Mirror’ — perhaps a bit of a stretch.

Nevertheless, Peloton isn’t exactly a stock we’d suggest investing in this holiday season.

This isn’t the first company commercial gaffe…

Peloton eventually responded to the criticism it received, expressing “disappointment in how some have misinterpreted this commercial”, yet stated that it had received an “outpouring of support … from those who understand what we were trying to communicate.” 

However, it’s not just Peloton…

Advertising can hurt the perception of a brand because consumers consider advertising as a window into a company’s culture and values. A recent example comes from Pepsi’s (NASDAQ: PEP) 2017 Kendall Jenner advert, which many accused of making light of the Black Lives Matter movement. The soda maker quickly pulled the ad and apologized, but Pepsi’s stock price took nine months to recover. A young company like Peloton does not have the influence and power of brand necessary to allow such commercials, unlike a larger company such as Nike (NYSE: NKE). 

Actors backlash…

It is not just Peloton feeling the backlash of the commercial. While the actor who depicted the exercise bike recipient in the advert  — now affectionately known as the “Peloton wife” — has bounced back with an appearance in a satirical commercial for Aviation Gin, the ‘Peloton husband’ has not been so lucky. 

He’s not exactly loving the attention. In a new interview with Good Morning America, actor and teacher Sean Hunter said that his image is now being “associated with sexism, with the patriarchy, with abuse,” even though that’s “not” who he is.

Perhaps Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) can get in trouble again and take the limelight away from Peloton.

MyWallSt operates a full disclosure policy. MyWallSt staff currently hold long positions in Facebook, Nike, Peloton, and Pepsi. Read our full disclosure policy here.