Fitness Ad or Hostage Video? Hard to Say


We feel vindicated. Presently, the price for watching video streams is exposure to a troubling Peloton fitness ad. Over and over again. Sure, it’s an ad. But if you turn off the sound, it looks more like a hostage video than a sales pitch. To our sensibilities, it’s creepy.

The Cultural Conversation

It turns out that we’re not alone. Thus the feeling of vindication. Vice is calling it a 30-second tale of one woman’s desperate journey into wellness hell. Likewise, USA Today is crying out for her: Someone please help the woman from Peloton’s awful new ad. Meanwhile, comedian Eva Victor has a parody of the ad that ends in divorce. Some people see sexism and body shaming in it.

Legendary huckster PT Barnum believed there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Peloton is no stranger to this concept. It’s a cultish brand that invites parody. Earlier this year, a spokesman responded to snarky tweets by saying, “That thread demonstrated that Peloton has officially become part of the cultural conversation.”

They might be right. Though the stock dropped on the news that this ad is attracting so much derision, it’s still selling well above the price of its IPO earlier this fall. Time will tell.

An Exercise Hostage

For what it’s worth, we prefer our physical activity without a trace of fear or punishment. Just pleasure. The apparent hostage situation in this fitness ad is a bit too scary for our taste. It may appeal to an impulse that some people have, but it sure doesn’t feel like a healthy one.

Click here and here for more on the response to this creepy advertising.

The Gift That Gives Back, Peloton Advertising © Peloton Interactive, Inc.

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December 4, 2019

3 Responses to “Fitness Ad or Hostage Video? Hard to Say”

  1. December 04, 2019 at 9:24 am, Cary Conway said:

    I respectfully disagree with your take on the Peloton holiday commercial and have been surprised to see so much backlash. Yes, it’s cheesy and why is the bike in the middle of her family room without a mat to catch the sweat :)? What I saw was a working mom and wife trying to balance a busy schedule that is now taking time for herself and her health. I see a woman who was intimidated to get started but finds she enjoys the workouts and at the end of the year is surprised and grateful for what she’s accomplished to be healthier.

    I did not ever see an already slender woman who wanted to lose weight or a husband who thought she should lose weight.

    Disclaimer: I recently bought a Peloton (and would have been thrilled if this was given as a gift as would many others) after dealing with running injuries and not using the gym like I should. It is more than I expected and comes with thousands of spin, yoga, stretching, meditation, strength training classes that can be quickly and conveniently accessed.

    I was also pleasantly surprised to find that there is a supportive Peloton community. At the end of the day, we all need to find ways to incorporate more physical activity and this platform offers great calorie-burning workouts with minimal wear and tear on the body and is helping thousands of people to become and stay active.

    • December 04, 2019 at 10:21 am, Ted said:

      Thanks, Cary. I’m sure that many people have many different feelings about this ad – all perfectly valid. I appreciate knowing yours.

  2. December 05, 2019 at 3:05 pm, John DiTraglia said:

    no pain no gain