If you haven’t seen the Peloton holiday ad yet (are you living under a rock?) we’ll give you a quick brief.
The ad, titled “The Gift That Gives Back” shows a husband gifting his slim wife a $2,000+ Peloton stationary bike for Christmas. It then shows a sequence of different scenes over the year as she documents her workout journey for her husband.
As Forbes put it, “The wife is oddly nervous as she tries the bike for the first time, and she also seems to be suffering when she wakes up at 6 a.m. to exercise on the bike.” At the end, we see that it is next Christmas and the woman is watching her “fitness journey” video with her husband. She then says “A year ago, I didn’t know how much this would change me. Thank you.” *Insert cringe here*
The Peloton Advertisement’s Aftermath
The ad, which has been viewed more than 8.3 Million times on YouTube, has caused quite a bit of controversary, with many people viewing it as sexist, elitist, and cringe-worthy, saying the man gifted his wife the bike to send a message that she needs to lose weight. The actress’s face of fear as she rides has become a widely circulated meme, and the actor who played the husband is now worried he may never get an acting job again.
And while they say all publicity is good publicity, this has not been the case for Peloton. Since the release of the ad, Peloton’s stock has plunged 15 percent (at the time of this writing). The company has not done much in the way of damage control and has stayed relatively silent on the whole matter.
In a statement, the company said it was “disappointed in how some have misinterpreted [the] commercial.” Meanwhile, its CEO refused to answer questions about the ad in a recent press conference, saying only “it was in the news last week.”
A Storytelling Growth Opportunity
But as they say, one man’s loss is another man’s gain! Ryan Reynolds and his company Aviation American Gin saw an opportunity to piggy-back off Peloton’s video blunder and make it their success story. Within 36 hours of seeing the viral fail, Aviation released a sequel commercial that tells the story of where the woman from the Peloton ad is now.
In the ad, she’s throwing back Aviation Gin martinis with friends, sulking in the aftermath of Peloton’s ill-conceived commercial. Her friends tell her she’s “safe here” and “you look great, by the way,” as they toast to “new beginnings.” Absent a wedding ring, viewers are left to interpret that Peloton woman has taken the resounding advice of Twitter users everywhere and left her husband.
The ad, titled “The Gift That Doesn’t Give Back” quickly blew up and currently, there are 4.1 million views on YouTube and Ryan Reynolds’s original tweet of the video has 9.9 million views. The brand’s ability to seize this viral media opportunity and swiftly make the ad can only be described as a truly genius marketing move that is sure to be mentioned in case studies and lists of the best social media campaigns for years to come.
The ad put Aviation at the forefront of today’s meme culture and allowed it to capitalize on what should have been another brand’s moment. This is a prime example of how businesses use social media for marketing today.
The product message and the idea were simple — the success really lies in the timeliness of the ad. Social media users were left hungry for more Peloton gossip to talk about, and Aviation gave them that opportunity.
Aviation’s ability to produce this made-for-web commercial in nearly real time shows the opportunity we as marketers have to produce viral content today. This quick-whitted marketing move simply wouldn’t have been possible ten years ago, as old-school, traditional TV advertising has longer turnaround times and stricter regulations.
Take note brands everywhere: when your opportunity comes along, seize it — it might just make you the next viral sensation.
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