Extensive planning, hard work and big money go into making commercials. Though it can be hard to tell, based on how frequently these endeavors go spectacularly wrong, despite all the effort that went into them.
The typical arc of a bad ad — like Pepsi’s 2017 misfire staring Kendall Jenner, suggesting street protests will dissolve into happiness if only we toss back enough Pepsi — ends with the company pulling the commercial and apologizing. Which Pepsi did. But its stock didn’t tank.
The same can’t be said for Peloton, the exercise equipment company whose “The Gift That Gives Back” commercial not only drew waves of ridicule but is blamed for Peloton stock dropping 15 percent, losing $1.5 billion in market value over three days.
The offense isn’t glaring. It’s subtle. At first glance, the 30-second spot seems no different than any other commercial where gorgeous hubby gives gorgeous wife a gorgeous something for Christmas.
A guy gives his wife an exercise bike, she’s happy. What’s the problem?
The devil is in the details. Two stand out: First, the rail thin arm the wife extends as she takes a selfie, announcing, “First ride.”
Second, her fear. In a saucer-eyed close-up she confides, “a little nervous but ... excited.” Viewers compared it to a horror movie.
Peloton forgot the sop. You know the sop, like in that GMC truck commercial, “One for You, One for Me.” Here, too, a guy gives his wife a gift: a red SUV, half of a pair of trucks. Only she rushes to his blue pickup. “I love it!” she cries, draping her body defensively over the vehicle. When he tries to explain, she insists “I love it!”
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