2. The Peloton ad depicting a svelte woman making a video to thank her male partner for buying her an exercise bike for Christmas. The ad was widely interpreted as disturbing because the woman appeared to many to be frightened. Some pointed out that the woman was already trim and hardly needed to lose weight; others said the ad reinforced stereotypes of women needing to stay in shape in order to keep their affluent significant others (the bike costs over $2,000, before monthly subscription fees). These reactions were of course eminently predictable. The key lesson for brands? Test audiences’ reaction before going public with new campaigns. The ad could have been an easy win just by, say, showing a woman giving the gift to a man instead.
Peloton Interactive Inc. loses more points for crafting a response as tone-deaf as the ad itself. “We’re disappointed in how some have misinterpreted this commercial,” the company said. An insincere non-apology is the only thing worse than not apologizing at all.