I just checked Google Trends and confirmed that this is true — sort of. Congrats to Pelosi, Nadler, and Schiff on almost generating as much interest online with their push to remove Trump as a commercial about an exercise bike.
This week there have been more US Google searches for Peloton than impeachment. pic.twitter.com/Jo0YR4UsMs
— Elliott Schwartz (@elliosch) December 4, 2019
I say that it’s “sort of” true because interest in “impeachment” did spike today during Nadler’s hearing. But as I write this at 8:40 p.m. ET, it’s neck and neck again with “Peloton.” Which is a relief, frankly, as I thought maybe Monday’s post about the Peloton ad was a bit too trivial to write about. Nope, it turns out: It’s of no worse than equal interest to readers online as Congress’s attempt to oust the sitting president of the United States.
Prepare for six to seven posts about Peloton tomorrow, is what I’m saying.
While we’re on the subject, let me take the opportunity to respond to certain benighted defenders of That Ad.
Watch it again just so we’re all on the same page.
It’s not the fact that the husband is gifting her exercise equipment that’s objectionable, although that’s a common critique. Obviously this woman isn’t being given a Peloton as a sly “slim down, fatty” message from hubby.
Nor is the ad’s concept the problem, even though it’s, uh, not normal to love a gift so much that you feel moved to document your enjoyment of it over the span of an entire year with an eye to presenting the evidence to the gifter the following December. Many Americans will receive the Christmas gift of a lifetime a few weeks from now — a puppy, a car, some sort of Baby Yoda merchandise — and literally none of them will adore their gift so much that they’re moved to make a documentary about it.
But we can forgive that on grounds that this is, after all, an ad. No one begrudges a company the right to imply that their product is so phenomenal that your life will revolve around it once you have it. In the sequel she’ll probably have the Peloton logo tattooed on her forehead. Perfectly normal bit of marketing exaggeration.
The problem is the performance — mostly. She’s just too anxious. And not merely in her odd reluctance to try the bike the first time either, as a woman who’s in this sort of shape clearly would know her way around exercise equipment. It’s little things, like her furrowed brow when addressing the camera and fidgeting with her hands nervously when she’s sitting next to her man at the end, screening the footage for him. She’s never at ease. Why?
What’s going on in this household?
The clincher is the quick but telling shot where she’s walking through the door, dressed to the nines, and already has her phone out recording herself about her Peloton progress. (“Five days in a row!”) She’s so eager to document for her husband that she’s excited to use the bike that it appears to be her top priority upon entering their home, even before taking her coat off.
This woman doesn’t need an exercise bike, she needs a wellness check.
The vibe could have been different with a slight rewrite and a more laid-back performance. First shot is of her dragging herself half-heartedly out of bed early to try it. “Gotta start somewhere.” Next shot is a few months later, showing how she’s come to enjoy it. Third shot is of her getting kudos from the instructor. Final shot is her showing her husband the footage and then gifting *him* with a second Peloton, maybe with a playful slap on the ass and a dig that he can stand to lose a few. (Remember the lesson from “Spinal Tap”: A sexist conceit isn’t sexist if you “do a twist on it” by reversing the genders.) Drain her inexplicable overeagerness to please him out of the ad and it’s perfectly fine.
As it is, you can imagine a neighbor’s reaction watching her through the window, pedaling furiously: “Hello, 911? I’m calling about the woman next door. She’s been on her Peloton for the past five hours with a vacant terrified look on her face.” I bet hubby makes her get on the scale in front of him when he gets home from work so that he can track her “progress.”
I’m not asking them to take the ad down or anything. I’m just saying it’d be a thoughtful gesture if they put the number for the crisis hotline onscreen at the end.
I’ll leave you with this, another fine idea for how to redeem the spot.
For Hims or Get Roman should hustle to grab these two actors for another commercial shoot where she surprises him with an…improvement…product. pic.twitter.com/AmsmTqS1CS
— Paul Pabst (@PaulPabst) December 4, 2019