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The Peloton Ad Seen ‘Round the World

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The Peloton Ad Seen ‘Round the World

Image Source: Peloton via AdWeek

By now, you’re likely one of the millions out there who have seen Peloton’s recent holiday ad. If you haven’t, spend a couple minutes watching here: https://youtu.be/pShKu2icEYw

The scene is a tale as old as time. An already fit woman is gifted a piece of exercise equipment by her husband. Seemingly terrified of the machine, the woman (coincidentally called “Grace from Boston”) spends the year spinning on her expensive stationary bike. By the end of the year, she finds herself a changed woman. Classic stuff.

At first look, Peloton hit all of the marks in their ad campaign. A believable story line, a holiday gift tie-in (timely!), and an inspirational ending. Watch the ad again, and you’ll find it riddled with tone-deaf nuances, so much so that the company’s stock plummeted by 10% after the commercial aired.

So, what could Peloton have done better?

I won’t fault Peloton for using a skinny white girl in the ad or using a story line that consists of her husband giving her the Peloton as a gift. I know some might argue differently (how stereotypical!), but I think the issue is more with the general tone of the ad. Why is Grace from Boston so apprehensive to start her new fitness routine? Did her husband force this thing on her? Why such a worried look on the face of someone who clearly already works out?!

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While it may seem like the world is asking a lot of fitness marketers these days, it’s important to create inclusive and positive content that steers away from anything remotely shameworthy. There are a lot of things Peloton could have done differently here. In my opinion, if Grace from Boston looked excited to start using the Peloton in the first place the script would be almost completely flipped. Starting her Peloton routine would have been something she was excited about rather than something she was dreading. After all, isn’t fitness supposed to make you feel good?

In a fast (and perhaps brilliant) response to the viral ad, Ryan Reynolds’ liquor brand, Aviation American Gin, released an ad starring “Peloton Wife” herself at the bar with two friends, looking troubled as she sips on her cocktail. Her friends reassure her that “she is safe here” (a dig at the worried expression she makes starting her new fitness routine in the Peloton ad). Reynolds captioned the ad on his social media channels, “Exercise bike not included.”

While many people probably had never heard of Aviation Gin prior to this ad (or knew Ryan Reynolds had a liquor brand?), now they do, and who knows — maybe they will seek it out the next time they stop at their local liquor store!

Posted by Julia K.