The stationary bike, which has a starting price of £1,990, has come under fire this week for its slightly-dystopian-arguably-sexist-downright-weird ad. The 30-second video follows a woman who has been gifted a Peloton bike by her husband for Christmas, and decides that the perfect way to return the favour is to create a selfie-style video of her experience with the bike. What a treat.
The ad has led to a strong backlash from viewers and industry experts alike, as well as a drop of $942 million in market value. It’s also given us a gift we actually want – hilarious parodies.
when my husband gets me a Peleton for Christmas …….. pic.twitter.com/Z2d3ewMhPu
— Eva Victor (@evaandheriud) December 2, 2019
Is the Peloton Christmas ad sexist?
One of the major criticisms of the ad is that it could be perceived as sexist thanks to the age-old stereotypes and a questionable gift from a spouse. Is the husband demonstrating dominance over his wife by giving her a gift that suggests she needs to exercise more? Maybe he’s exerting control over her body or pressuring her into looking even more perfect? Either way, it isn’t good.
If you’re looking for tired stereotypes, look no further. The Peloton ad has it all; the perfect housewife in her spotless home next to her daughter (who is never properly seen again in the ad). She’s the woman those women’s magazines told us we should be – the woman who ‘has it all’. Unfortunately for Peloton, it’s a stereotype we’ve all become incredibly bored of seeing time and time again.
The ad ends with her gazing lovingly at her husband, after showing him the video she made – proving her eternal gratefulness and evidence that she is putting in the work.
But all of these readings are subjective, and they’re coming in thick and fast. Audiences have the space to draw such conclusions simply because there is no real substance to the story. There’s no backstory that shows why she wanted the bike or why her husband thought it would be an appropriate gift. There’s no explanation of how the bike has ‘changed’ her (because, let’s face it, she was already in great shape before). There are just lazy stereotypes and a woman on an exercise bike.
A problem of disconnect
Therein lies the big issue with the Peloton ad; a lack of substance. Look at literally any other Christmas advert and you’ll quickly deduce what wins people over; emotion, humour, and connection. All three are severely lacking and leave viewers with little other than a feeling of confusion and an urge to binge watch Black Mirror.
The style of the video also contributes to this disconnect. The cold colours, modern home, and shifting perspectives (are we the husband watching the video? Wait, now we’re watching the husband watch the video?) do nothing to engage viewers and create a sense of familiarity or connection.
Peloton have fought back, and have said they’re “disappointed in how some have misinterpreted this commercial” but are “encouraged by — and grateful for — the outpouring of support” they’ve apparently received. Unfortunately for Peloton, the share prices say otherwise.
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