I think one thing is definite this year, neither Santa nor any husband will be gifting an exercise bike this year.
In case the viral ad somehow did not make it across your news or social media feeds (but, I mean how? I can’t scroll for five minutes without seeing it), I’ve embedded the video below. In summary, a husband buys his wife a Peloton bike as a Christmas present and she proceeds to vlog her year-long experience, gifting her husband with a video compilation the following year.
The online outrage that followed nearly immediately after the video hit the internet came as quite a shock to Peloton, even decreasing their stock by 15%–about $1.5 billion in market value. But, still they are sticking by their ad.
Is the Outrage Justified?
Many people were quick to claim that their commercial promoted an unhealthy marriage dynamic with the husband only giving the gift to receive a better looking wife. These claims were then escalated into Peloton questioning the body image of an already-slender actress. Regardless of the fact that skinny doesn’t necessarily mean healthy, people of all body types and sizes need exercise to stay healthy. Maybe she wasn’t trying to lose weight, maybe she wanted to tone up or improve her cardio–we don’t know. But, can you imagine the uproar if the actress had actually been overweight? All hell would have broken loose.
Yes, unrequested exercise equipment being given as a gift is enough to make anyone cringe. What the mob mentality doesn’t seem to notice is the wife’s genuine excitement to be receiving the bike. It’s obvious that she was wanting a similar piece of equipment to improve her health. Yes, the commercial could have used a bit more context in the beginning, but there’s only so much that can be fit into a 30-second spot and we do have the wife’s obvious reaction as a clue. Plus, why is it an insult to support someone in improving their health?
Others commented that her daily use promoted an unhealthy body image and went as far as to consider it obsessive behavior. As long as your body is properly nourished and hydrated, daily cardio is not harmful.
The Perfect Response
With the instantaneous uproar that followed the commercial’s debut, actor Ryan Reynolds responded in his signature, trolling fashion.
In a matter of just two days (major props to his creative team, by the way), Reynolds posted an unofficial “Part 2” to the bike commercial, promoting his brand Aviation Gin with the now-viral actress Monica Ruiz.
What Lessons Are to Be Learned?
Ride the Wave
Reynolds said it best: “Ads are generally disposable pieces of content…If you’re going to do something like this, you have to jump on the zeitgeist-y moment as it happens.”
Basically, unless you’re in the market for something, you don’t typically pay attention to advertisements. If there is a trending topic, video, or challenge going around, why not create something that will go along with the hype? At that present moment, people are more likely to look up that trend more than anything else. If your content checks similar boxes for social algorithms and webcrawlers, there’s a higher chance it will reach a greater audience. Though, I do caution you, sometimes it is better to be ahead of the trends that to try to keep up.
Not Everyone is Going to Get It
As evident with the uproar surrounding Peloton’s video, audience response is VERY subjective. Not everyone will understand the message you are trying to convey, but it is critical that your target audience does. They are the ones who are most likely to purchase your products/services so they are the ones you need to convince.
To do this you need to take time to thoroughly research your target audience’s demographics and interests, making sure your message addresses their pain points.
People Love to Laugh
The saying “laughter makes the best medicine” is very true. It’s a universal expression of joy and ease.
If you can make people laugh at something that simultaneously portrays your marketing message and aligns with your brand voice, you are one step closer to building a rapport and creating that vital connection to turn them from audience to customer.
Overall, I think Reynolds’ team did a fantastic job at capitalizing on an opportunity that only Reynolds could have seen. They somehow succeeded at giving a viral topic a fresh look while also promoting their product that will save many family gatherings. Ryan Reynolds has done it again, and this time, he saved Christmas in the process.
Happy Holidays everyone!