Peloton is facing backlash for a commercial, “The Gift That Gives Back” that they released on November 21 amidst the holiday shopping season. Seriously, Twitter is having a field day with this one.
I can understand why people are critical of this ad. On the surface, it seems pretty terrible, but personally, I did not perceive it with such disdain.
I’ll start by saying that I do not work for Peloton — I’ve never even tried it. However, as someone who does marketing for fitness brands, I think I viewed this ad through a different lens. I decided to round up my responses to some of the tweets and criticisms people have about it.
Both Sides of Peloton’s Holiday Commercial
Below, I am sharing tweets that circulated about the Peloton commercial, with my responses written underneath each.
Fitness is not a goal that you reach one day and then stop. Taking care of your body is a lifelong journey and this applies no matter what your current fitness level or economic status.
The woman looks nervous in the beginning because she is trying something new. A new experience, especially in fitness, can be intimidating. This feeling of uncertainty is something people of all sizes and income levels can understand, and by the end of the commercial, we see that the woman overcomes her fear.
If you play it back, you’ll see there was no mention of weight loss in the commercial. I see this ad more as as a mental and behavioral change than physical.
How quickly we forget that the benefits of fitness transcend physical changes. In 31 seconds, we see a story about a woman who develops a habit, demonstrates grit, and exercises commitment (no pun intended!).
Next, I need to revisit this husband-wife dynamic and the relationship between the characters in this ad.
Something to keep in mind — clearly this woman is a mother. She may even be a working mother, as we see her waking up at 6am and also walking through the door in business attire. We don’t know the kind of stress she may be under on a daily basis. Finding time for fitness or self-care is probably challenging.
So maybe she ASKED for a Peloton for Christmas, hoping the convenience of working out from home would help her balance her busy schedule. Maybe her Peloton ride is the only moment of her day that she gets for herself.
Maybe, just maybe her husband isn’t trying to push or control her. Maybe he actually loves her and wants to gift his hard-working wife something that will make her life easier make her feel happier every day. After all, as Elle Woods said, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t kill their husbands, they just don’t.”
We are quick to criticize the fact that this woman is taking selfie videos on her bike — I know I did at first. Seriously, who does that?! Oh wait, pretty much everyone I know who works out.
Many, many people document their fitness activities on social media. It’s not a bad thing — we all could use a little #Fitspiration.
This woman’s fitness journey was not vain — she was sincere. She was not flexing or making it look easy. She was sharing all of her authentic feelings with her friends and followers. From nervousness, to exhaustion, to eventually pride, we can only hope that perhaps this woman’s posts inspired someone else to get moving.
As you saw, the woman then compiles all of her selfie videos into a montage to share with her husband, thanking him and explaining how much the Peloton has changed her. I admit the montage is a little odd and unconventional (God forbid we show gratitude to our spouses who invest in an incredibly thoughtful gift), but why is it so hard to believe that this woman has changed?
Maybe she was never a morning person. Maybe she now has more endurance to go hiking. Maybe she’s more engaged at work. Maybe she’s a stronger and happier wife, mother, daughter.
Again, change is not limited to the differences you see in the mirror.
Does the Peloton Ad Miss the Mark?
I’m typically a fan of any ad that tells a story and evokes emotion rather than hitting me with a hard sell (for more on this, read About Face by Dan Hill). While this Peloton ad stirred up some not-so-positive emotions, here are some others I found illustrated in the commercial:
Perhaps we judged this ad too quickly? Peloton is still good in my book.
READ MORE: Here’s the secret to SoulCycle’s content marketing strategy.