How the Holiday Peloton Ad Played Against Society and Won

Peloton Fights Society

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First off, I don’t own a Peloton.  I am not their target market.  I do know that people who own them are passionate about them and defend the price.  I casually mentioned to someone over drinks recently, while we were discussing training regiments, that I thought the Peloton was too expensive when the rec center I go to is only $25 a month.  The conversation then steered from training to a passionate defense of the Peloton. 

Recently Peloton has been all over the news for the following ad:

Before I move on, here are a sample of articles about what people think of the ad:

Peloton Ad Is Criticized as Sexist and Dystopian

Peloton Doesn’t Understand the People Who Love It Most

New Peloton commercial sparks cries of sexism

Social-Media’s Latest Exercise: Getting Worked Up Over a Peloton Ad

So, who won this fight?  We all know the adage, There Is No Such Thing as Bad Publicity.  For Peloton this couldn’t be truer.  The ad alone, which I’ll get to in a second, is kind of a run of the mill ad that I’d have never personally seen if not for the news coverage around it.  Thanks to Peloton’s detractors, though, millions of people have seen the ad that wouldn’t have without any negative pushback. 

A $2,000 exercise bike that you have to buy a subscription with to get the most out of it is not for everyone.  Peloton has to be aware of that. In fact, knowing what I know about marketing (which, for those of you looking for a marketer to help in 2020, is a lot) they have more data about their target audience than they could ever know what to do with.  When they create and run an ad for a particular audience the people who it’s not intended for should probably just ignore it.  (If Peloton is running the same ad with actors in Black Face or have swastikas laid around the house, that’s another story and their should be outrage. But, that’s clearly not the case here) The public’s out roar on the topic didn’t cause someone to not buy the bike, it only put it in front of more eyes so that more people might buy it. 

This ad was a boon for both their marketing team and PR team.  The PR team handled the situation beautifully, by waiting a day for the news cycle to play out before responding. You can read the response here.  They weren’t exactly responding to an emergency situation, so they had time to strategize the best way to respond.

The Advertising Game

People take a very button up approach to marketing.  Even in Peloton’s case, their sets are perfect, their actors are pristine, and their message is clear, this bike is exclusive, it’s not for everyone.  And in a society that is fighting inequality and exclusivity Peloton is an easy target.  But, like gentrification in the world’s largest cities, it’s easy to rail against, but their target market is still buying. 

No matter how tight your marketing efforts are, nothing will ever be perfect, and that’s why you have to be both creative and agile.  Peloton knows their game better than people Tweeting against them.  They know that society is against their message.  And lo and behold, with only three weeks till Christmas society gave Peloton the perfect Christmas gift…

They played against society and won millions of dollars worth of free advertising!

Author: Douglas Eldridge

Douglas Eldridge began his career in content in 2003 as an editor at a global newswire. Over the years he has worked in almost every facet of digital marketing, from PPC to ecommerce. When he's not marketing you can find him with his wife, two kids, their dog and a flock of chickens in Denver, Colorado or in the right seat of a Cessna 172 teaching people to fly airplanes.

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