Monday, December 9, 2019

As their rights vanish, women lash out at exercise bike maker

     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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  1. Unspoken is the real reason women and children prefer to exercise indoors. For the world is dark and full of terrors, it is known.

  2. whether Peloton commercials are great or lousy, I’m never buying one and neither are you.

    True enough. In my case it's because 1) Peloton is ridiculously expensive ($2K+ for the bike plus $500 a year for the online service, if I'm not mistaken); 2) I've never been to an exercise class or used a personal trainer; 3) the whole concept reminds me of that scene in "1984" where the exercise instructor yells at Winston through the "telescreen" during morning stretches because he's not bending over far enough.

    But I think the reaction has been over the top, though, as Neil says, it's understandable as a proxy for the larger situation about gender relations. And thanks for linking to that gin commercial. It's hilarious.

  3. Perhaps she had asked for the Peloton and her husband had purchased it rather than buying the custom tailored golf clubs he craved. That she was already thin and seemingly in shape doesn't mean she was in top physical condition. Cycling builds aerobic and muscular shape, not just aesthetics. That people ascribe only negative intent to his gift is baffling and ignores one other fact. Countless exercise machines become dust collecting clothes hangers and a main benefit of an interactive device is to push the reluctant to achieve their goals. I find stationary bikes boring, so I walk instead, but friends have told me of joyful spin classes and their healthy outcomes. Peloton moves the class to your home and people seem willing to pay for it. Better them than me.

  4. That the stock price dropped, showed how absurd Wall Street is! They have no idea whether the ad caused a drop in sales, they just reacted to the mob.

  5. Some supposedly smart marketing folks can be pretty dense!

  6. Well, no, I'm not buying one NOW!

  7. A critic of advertising was Stephen Leacock, who defined it as "the science of arresting the human intelligence long enough to get money for it."

    Having worked in the business and knowing all that goes into an ad, I'm inclined to sympathize with the poor copywriters, agreeing with an appraisal by Aldous Huxley: "It is far easier to write a passably effective sonnet good enough to take in the not too enquiring critic than one effective advertisement that will fool the few thousands of the uncritical buying public."


  8. What is weird to me about the commercial is her reaction is so odd. If she had smiled broadly and said like "Oh, it's just what I wanted!!!" She looks terrified at the prospect of using the machine and faces it the first time like she's getting ready to climb Everest or skydive for the first time. She doesn't look happy or unhappy, just oddly terrified.

  9. Yet another subliminal message about “perfect” people and the “perfect” Christmas. Gorgeous husband/boyfriend gives gorgeous (if you like your women scrawny and anorexic) wife/girlfriend a farshtunkener two-thousand-clam exercise bike in their gorgeous McMansion with a gorgeous backyard covered in gorgeous (gag) snow. Immediately, a selfie (retch).

    And instantly, multiple demographics are appalled...and alienated...and enraged.

    The not-so-thin.The not-so-rich. The not-so-gorgeous. Those who hate the selfishness of selfies. The folks who don’t live on the hill or out in the boonies, but who struggle to get by in a tract house on a slab and can barely afford Christmas. The geezers who can remember when a Beetle went for less than the cost of that bike. It took you places. Where the hell does the Peloton take you? To the cleaners? Damn betcha. Unless you happen to be a materialistic, self-absorbed, yupster gym-rat.

    And then...there’s the sordid backstory. That deer-in-the-headlights, Gestapo-is- at the door look on her terrorized face. Why? Is there a long history of ridicule and fat-shaming? Psychological and verbal bullying? Is he slapping her around? Is she just another anorexic who seeks some unattainable goal of feminine gorgeousnessnessness? Why? Her own inner demons? Or perhaps it’s merely a futile attempt to salvage a crumbling marriage to a good provider--who’s also an abusive asshat.

    The gin-soaked sequel appears to be even worse. Two alcoholic skanks attempt to ease he pain of this miserable, newly-divorced wretch. How? By getting her sloshed, and by mouthing platitudes? Yeah, that’ll work. These harpies are not her friends.

    Will this become a whole series of thirty-second sitcoms of conspicuous consumption? What will she shill for next? Will there be a spin-off?

    Never heard of Peloton--until now. I'm old and I'm porky. But I still hike, bike, rake leaves, mow grass, and shovel snow. Don't need or want one of these stupid bikes. Neither does anyone else I know. Or anyone else I care to know.


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