As an athlete, a woman and a marketing professional, it was with great interest that I watched social media explode over another advertising misstep by fitness equipment manufacturer Peloton. And, of course, the genius follow up by Aviation Gin.
Let me start by saying that, while I don’t own a Peloton, I am a believer in buying the equipment that works for you and not judging others for paying what may appear to be “too much.” Those I know with a Peloton Bike or Treadmill love it, and most astonishingly, most still use it months and years after the purchase.
(It should be noted that none of them, to my knowledge, keep it on display in their living room or in their penthouse apartment overlooking Central Park.)
Reviewing the commercial again (and again), it suffers from a serious case of cluelessness which, as has been pointed out by many, smells like sexism. But, with two quick fixes to change the perspective, the ad could have been salvaged.
Fix #1 – The commercial is in trouble right from the start. If mom could have told her husband she wanted a bike, only to be “surprised” when on Christmas Day, it would feel like something she chose, rather than was forced upon her.
We tend to fault husbands, in particular, for giving presents that are functional, with the assumption that their spouse would like something more fun. But if your loved one wants an exercise bike, a set of car mats, or a robot that will do the vacuuming (my personal favorite), who is anyone to say that is the “wrong” gift?
The middle of the commercial felt very familiar. The nervousness I felt the first time I joined a virtual group ride on Zwift. The astonishment each time I managed to get up early. The pride when I realized fitness was becoming a habit. Even the gratitude she expresses at the end.
Which brings me to Fix #2. Wrapping up with what turns out to be a confessional by the wife to her husband, she says “A year ago, I didn’t know how much this would change me. Thank you.”
Assuming we’ve fixed the front end, a slight tweak to this line would have made all the difference.
A year ago, I didn’t know how much this would change me. Thank you for the time and support I needed.
Because let’s face it, mom didn’t need just a bike. She needed help from her husband as she carved out time to focus on herself.
Much has been written about how the skinny woman from the ad didn’t need to get skinnier. But that ignores the very real benefits to exercise that go beyond weight – mental health, aerobic health – and falls into another trap, which is judging by someone’s weight without knowing their actual fitness.
All things considered, the ad isn’t terrible – but it isn’t terribly good either. For another exercise equipment manufacturer doing a better job, I suggest you take a look at the “If I Can, You Can” series from Bowflex.