It must be the time of year for controversial advertising campaigns. Earlier this month we wrote about South Dakota’s “Meth. I’m on it.” campaign, which provoked many people to post their reactions on social media. The “Meth. I’m on it.” campaign was designed to focus attention on combatting the prevalence of meth in South Dakota and starting conversations about the problems of meth addiction.b
But now, with a seemingly straightforward advertising campaign, Peloton has entered the social media collective consciousness and has generated a lot of negative buzz. The company’s new holiday campaign features a woman receiving a Peloton bike for Christmas, and chronicles her experience over the next year.
At first glance, the ad shows a lovely holiday scene of a husband giving his wife an exercise bike for Christmas. However, viewers quickly made their negative opinions known on social media, criticizing the company for being sexist as well as being elitist. The wife is thin and attractive; the house looks large and luxurious. (A Peloton bike is priced at $2,245, plus a monthly video subscription for interactive classes at an additional $39/month.)
Peloton has stated it stands by the ad and that it hears regularly from customers about how the bike has changed their lives for the better. The actors also stated that the commercial was a very positive experience, despite the pushback from social media. So why the criticism? And what should happen when a company offends people?
One company that quickly followed up on the controversy was Aviation Gin, owned by actor Ryan Reynolds. The same actress was cast in a humorous commercial that seemed to show her a little shell-shocked after the first commercial and in need of a little relaxation.
What’s your opinion?
Group Activities and Discussion Questions:
- Discuss the importance of developing a clear, concise message for marketing programs.
- Show the Peloton Website: https://www.onepeloton.com/
- Show the original ‘peloton Wife’ video: https://youtu.be/pShKu2icEYw
- What are the students’ opinions? Have the students use their phones and devices to search for commentary about the campaign online.
- Next, show the same actress in the Aviation Gin commercial: https://youtu.be/H2t7lknrK28
- What are student’s opinions about this ad and message?
- How does this ad play off the original ad?
Source: Advertising Week; Bloomberg News; New York Times; Wall Street Journal; other news sources