Cover Image from Peloton.
For brands, ads are a part of their social media content. The holiday ad from Peloton hits this season’s viral video status. Backlash is not just limited to social mocking, but in one day, Peloton’s market value dropped $942 million.
What the Backlash Reveals About Social Sensitivity
Gifts that celebrate health are not always about losing weight, but that’s exactly what critics focused on. They disregard how the bike empowered the female or made her lead a healthier life, but focused on the idea of a guy giving a girl a gift that’s associated with working out. Empowerment is interpreted as body shaming. Will we get the same reaction if a guy gets a girl a gym membership, yoga pants?
The ads are criticized for being outdated and showing a privileged life. Would it have had a different effect if the house was more modest, or would that have been too incongruous? How about a Peloton bike stationed in a 2-car garage along with the garbage bins? We see commercials for luxury cars parked in fancy driveways, modern homes, and a man driving–why aren’t we mocking luxury car commercials for not showing a more humble and gender-neutral theme?
Why aren’t commercials that show men giving women jewelry getting the same backlash? Women giving men power tools? Or highly sexualized perfume commercials? Don’t they fall under the same umbrella of gender stereotyping?
So Why Peloton?
Peloton is a luxury brand. It costs around $2,250, requires a monthly membership fee, and until recently, was one of a kind. It’s similar to how Apple products were viewed and there is a segment of the population that loves to hate Apple. One can also find parallels with the Kardashian clan. A few years ago, the Kardashians were constantly labeled as being rich for doing nothing, but now they are regarded as savvy entrepreneurs.
And all this negative publicity is not a bad thing. In fact, Peloton supporters have come out in support of the brand and the commercial.
…from a branding perspective having some people hate your work is a Very Good Thing. The reason is simple…people only love brands that other people hate. One comes with the other. They’re inseparable.
A brand that everyone “kinda likes” is barely on anybody’s radar. The ultimate goal of all brand marketing is to create emotion, even if some of that emotion is negative.Geoffrey James | Inc.com
Part of the larger picture is that wellness lifestyle has become associated with affluence, whether that’s choosing organic, having free time, wearing expensive yoga clothes, gym membership, sustainable home decor. Singling Peloton is a part of that categorization. And this backlash is an opportunity to elevate the conversation about why the public associates a healthy and mindful life with money, when healthy habits such as eating beans and legumes, moving using just your body aka yoga, and meditating through deep breathing are quite accessible.