Peloton Gone Wrong

Maybe she badly wanted a two and a half thousand dollar workout bike for Christmas. Perhaps she had an underlying health issue which transformed her life after using her bike for a year. Mayhap, her husband was simply a nice guy. The Peloton holiday commercial forces the viewer into questions about the scenario rather than reinforcing positive brand values associated with a top-of-the-line fitness and lifestyle product.


This Peloton ad misses the mark by a long way. 


Humor me, let's play a game. You and I are participants in a good-old focus group. We've been asked to focus our attention on the TV in the corner of the room, and our talented moderator has asked us to watch a brand new commercial - something that we might see online or on TV.


Here's the video.



"Okay, this is the first time you've seen this video," says the moderator. "What initial thoughts and feelings do you have? Shout them out."


You, me, and our fellow focus group participants immediately vocalize - there's a lot on our minds.


  1. Why is the lady so jazzed about her bike - it must be an excellent product. I wonder why?
  2. What's up with her confidence issues? This looks like a massive step to her - what's the story behind that? 
  3. Why is she documenting this journey? What's she trying to prove? What's she measuring?
  4. There is a before and after from her perspective - what is it? 
  5. Why does she say she's nervous about her first ride?
  6. She's going out of her way to please her husband... what's going on there? It's a sinister vibe.
  7. She said at the end of the spot that a year ago, she didn't realize how much it would change her. I don't see any change at all.
  8. Why did she have to make videos for a year for her husband - wouldn't a simple "thank you" suffice?
  9. She looks so nervous when she is sitting on the couch with her partner - I'm worried about her.
  10. Shouldn't she be doing this for herself, not anyone else?


Do those thoughts and feelings mirror your own? I'm guessing several of them do. Ultimately, Peloton has created a mystery, and the consumer can't figure it out. I don't care about the brand or the benefits of using a Pelton product - I want to know what in the world is going on with the lady's life. That's my sole focus at this point.


In addition to the mystery the commercial presents, the components of that mystery are enveloped in negative connotations (never a good brand association). The Peloton recipient seems nervous, scared, and weak (my wife's words, not mine). Her motivation is to please someone else - her husband. The thought of getting on the Peloton intimidates her. None of this is right.


There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that after a couple of focus groups or an online survey, these problems would have been quickly and clearly identified. Even some guerilla-style informal research with buddies would reveal the issues with this commercial.


I'm not saying that there was no research behind this. And I'm not saying there was lousy research behind this either. However, if Peloton used research correctly, then this version of the ad would have never made the light of day.


If I scrunch my eyes together really hard, I can see the woods behind the trees. Peloton was attempting to communicate that their product can change people's lives in a big way. The concept behind this ad is very different from previous Peloton commercials, which traditionally concentrate on fitness-focused, driven, and confident individuals. This new commercial is an attempt to branch out from that. Unfortunately, the positive impact of a Peloton lies buried behind a thoroughly strange concept execution. 


EDIT: By COB on 12/3/19, Peloton's stock has dropped by around 7% as a result of this commercial misfire. $20,000 worth of research would have demonstrated the ad shouldn't air. Sigh.


EDIT EDIT: The morning of 12/4/19, stock dropped by $942m. 


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Posted by EvolveKev

Kevin is all about research. Qualitative, quantitative, UX, you name it. When he's not researching, he's to be found laying down beats in his studio and hanging out with his dogs (and girlfriend). Woof.

Topics: Marketing, Interesting