Breaking Down The ‘Peloton’ Holiday Ad Debacle
If you've been anywhere online in the last week, you've probably come across some mention of the Peloton holiday ad for this year--whether it be the ad itself, or some sort of backlash about it. In fact, there's been so much controversy surrounding this one commercial, that one of Hollywood's biggest stars has used the uproar to capitalize on his own product, and even SNL got in on the game, poking fun at the spot during last weekend's show.
Needless to say, it's been getting some traction online. But I wanted to take a minute and break down what's been going on with this situation, and ask two simple questions: Is it okay that we live in a world where perception trumps reality now? And what does it say about our nature as people if tools like the internet are more widely being used to perpetuate the bad instead of the good?
So let's start at the beginning and take a look.
On November 21st, a company that specializes in making stationary exercise bikes, Peleton, put out a holiday ad, staring actors Sean Hunter and Monica Ruiz. In the commercial, Hunter's "Peloton Husband" character presents Ruiz's "Peloton Wife" character an exercise bike on Christmas morning. We then follow a vlog of her first year's journey on the bike, at the end of which she thanks her husband for the "gift that gives back" (as they've titled the ad) and changed her life in a positive way.
Let me point out first, and I can't believe I have to even state this, but it would seem this point has been missed by quite a few folks: Hunter and Ruiz are ACTORS playing a role. They are not actually the people in the ad.
Also, if you watch the ad, at no point does Ruiz's character seem upset about getting this gift. She actually seems pretty excited about it. Is she an already fit young woman? Yes. Could it be that she is fit because she enjoys exercising and therefore might actually have wanted this bike? Quite possibly.
But that's not the way the internet took it.
After the commercial came out, it would seem anyone and everyone started to "weigh" in on the spot, many stating that it was misogynistic, and insulting. The internet trolls pointed out that the "Peloton Wife" was already very thin. They insinuated that the husband must be some sort of control freak to give his wife such a gift. Many mentioned that she must be in need of rescuing.
All of this from a :30 advertisement about a happy lady, exercising on a bike, and thanking her husband for it at the end.
It started to get so much buzz that it caught the media savvy eye of none other than Hollywood's Ryan Reynolds, who very smartly saw an opportunity to use this internet feeding frenzy against Peloton for his own gain, and hired Ruiz to star a bit of a follow up ad he called "The Gift That Doesn't Give Back", spoofing her "Peloton Wife" character to sell his Avation Gin brand.
Not to be outdone, SNL jumped on the Peloton "Hater" Wagon, and added their own spin on the original ad, creating a hashtag of their own for the product!
Not that I didn't find the entertainment value in all of this, because I do have a sense of humor, and I totally get the creativity in being tongue and cheek about things at times. But it was concerning to me when I heard Hunter, the "Peloton Husband" has not only been getting hate-mail for this acting job that he took, but that his name is now being associated with some pretty negative sentiments. He even took to ABC news to speak out about it.
Personally, I don't see the fuss. The character looked happy, capable and together. There was no depiction of her exercising against her will (she didn't seem super excited to be getting up at 6 a.m., but who is?) I don't think that everyone would be thrilled to get a gift like this. But I'm not sure this ad was targeted at everyone...despite the fact that everyone felt the need to chime in.
What's kind of disturbing is that the internet totally dictated the trajectory of this ad and sent it in a negative direction, and it seems as though the actors in the commercial have become either pawns or collateral damage, for simply doing their jobs.
What do you think?