- This week, fitness company Peloton went viral thanks to a tone deaf holiday ad featuring a woman whose husband gifts her with its exercise bike for Christmas.
- The ad was widely criticized online for being sexist and many on Twitter even said it felt a bit dystopian, like an episode of Black Mirror.
- Ryan Reynolds tracked down Monica Ruiz, the woman who starred in the ill-conceived ad, and cast her in a commercial for his Aviation Gin.
If you didn't know about Peloton before this week, you almost definitely know about them now, thanks to the company's viral holiday ad. Unfortunately for the fitness company (and the stars of the commercial, but more on that later), the ad didn't go viral for the best reasons—and that's putting it as mildly as one possibly can.
At the beginning of the commercial, a woman is given a Peloton bike for Christmas by her husband, to which she has a relatably lackluster response (just ask anyone who has ever received a loosely-veiled hint in the guise of a gift). The rest of the ad chronicles her year spent training on the bike, as told in clips from her fitness vlog, which she is revealed to have edited together into a thank you video for her husband the following Christmas.
The ad was titled, "The Gift That Gives Back":
The woman's already-thin frame, paired with the actress' somewhat beleaguered tone throughout the ad, prompted a wave of criticism online, where the commercial was widely-decried as sexist and even likened to an episode of Black Mirror by many on Twitter.
The impact on Peloton was real and quick—People reports that the company lost $942 million in market value the day after the ad premiered. What's more, Sean Hunter, the actor who played the husband in the ad, quickly distanced himself from the entire campaign. "My image is being associated with sexism, with the patriarchy, with abuse, for example," he said during an interview on Good Morning America. "That’s not who I am."
But what about Monica Ruiz, the actress now known online as the "Peloton Girl" and the "Peloton Wife"? Ryan Reynolds saw her "help me" eyes in the Peloton ad and threw her a lifeline in the form of a hilarious Aviation Gin ad.
In the Aviation Gin ad, Ruiz reprises her iconic role as "Peloton Girl," and sits, staring blankly, as a friend supportively assures her that she's "safe here." The ad focuses more on Ruiz than the gin, which she drinks to, presumably, drown her sorrows. She does let viewers know that the drink is "really smooth" though.
Reynolds tweeted the video out with the appropriately hilarious caption, "Exercise bike not included."
In spite of the backlash, Peloton is standing by the ad. In a statement to People, a spokesperson said:
"We constantly hear from our members how their lives have been meaningfully and positively impacted after purchasing or being gifted a Peloton Bike or Tread, often in ways that surprise them.
Our holiday spot was created to celebrate that fitness and wellness journey. While we’re disappointed in how some have misinterpreted this commercial, we are encouraged by—and grateful for—the outpouring of support we’ve received from those who understand what we were trying to communicate."
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