This Peloton commercial needs to calm down
December 5, 2019 8:02 AM   Subscribe

As a new commercial from Peloton makes clear, one of the best ways to accomplish this goal is to give your loved ones stationary bikes that hold them hostage for at least a year of anxiety-soaked daily exercise. A darkly hilarious new commercial makes a Peloton bike seem less like a Christmas present and more like a nightmare.

Some highlights of the twitterverse responding.

With actual business consequences, Pelton had their feelings hurt, doubling down on the ad:

"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,” a company spokesperson said in an email. “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.”

(though there might also be more core underlying issues as well than just the ad)

(previously, previouslier)
posted by Carillon (136 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
Not more then 10 minutes ago, I saw the ad. Notice, the treadmill maitre d' does not give congrats on the 50th run through the screen. The customer does: "she said MY name"
posted by clavdivs at 8:09 AM on December 5, 2019


I watched the commercial, and I don't get the backlash at all. It feels like this woman's eyebrows are just shaped in a way that gives her a bit of resting-worried-face, unfortunately.
posted by mosst at 8:10 AM on December 5, 2019 [25 favorites]


Peloton does seem like maybe a waste of money and also a weirdly culty, SoulCycle-like endeavor that is targeted to the wealthy for performative fitness routines.

That said, the actual meat of the ad - that committing to an exercise routine can be scary and is filled with moments when you'd rather be sleeping and other moments when you're super happy about your progress - is spot-on. And, it should be noted, being thin does not mean being fit.
posted by grumpybear69 at 8:12 AM on December 5, 2019 [11 favorites]


Yes, I think this actress's face just makes her look perpetually anxious.
posted by peacheater at 8:13 AM on December 5, 2019 [6 favorites]


“I got you this and you can use it or not or sell it for $2,245 [the price of the Peloton bike]

$2,245? Does it come with a tuning fork?
posted by thelonius at 8:13 AM on December 5, 2019 [8 favorites]


[Nixed a bit of repeated text from the above-the-fold section, though if something else was supposed to go before the first link lemme know what and I can fix it up.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:15 AM on December 5, 2019


I think there are many ways they could have taken the ad to not give the impression it does now - had a bit in the beginning where she talks about how she loves to exercise but can't find time for it with the kid, talk about how she loves to cycle but the weather in Boston doesn't allow for it etc. - make it something that she wants before her husband just "surprises" her with it. They could have shown her being a bit more enthusiastic after the exercise sessions or even when sitting on the couch. But the entire set-up of the ad, plus, unfortunately, the actress's anxious face, makes it look like she's being held hostage by her creepy husband and forced to film herself exercising or something.
posted by peacheater at 8:16 AM on December 5, 2019 [52 favorites]


I'm not going to fault the actress for her natural features. I do find the idea of hubby surprising healthy-looking wife with a.....exercise bike that comes with a monthly subscription (and now an obligation to get fit for hubby and not waste the $2.5k he dropped on this!) to be off-putting.
posted by Karaage at 8:17 AM on December 5, 2019 [16 favorites]


I appreciate the ways the ad is creepy, but I think that people who don't think a peloton would be a cool gift are not in the target market for this ad. My wife would be overjoyed, except that she has access to one at the Y every day and would chide me for the waste of our money.
posted by ftm at 8:18 AM on December 5, 2019 [6 favorites]


I think someone in a wine bar must have told the marketing department that the word peloton, in cycling speak, suggests leadership and superiority.

Quite the opposite.

"Le peloton représente le groupe majoritaire, et ceux qui parviennent à s'extirper de ce groupe sont nommés les 'échappés'." (Ou en anglais :- The peloton represents the majority group, and those who manage to escape from it are called the 'breakaway'.)
posted by Cardinal Fang at 8:20 AM on December 5, 2019 [12 favorites]


From the NPR story on the ad:

MEGAN GRAHAM: You know, this is probably not going to hurt sales. They've had other ads that have done really well. And it's not that bad. This is not an egregious thing that they've done.

MARY LOUISE KELLY: I mean, we're sitting here talking about it, which is...

GRAHAM: Exactly.
...
KELLY: I have to ask. Have you ridden one? And are you tempted by this ad? Did it work on you? Might you add it to your shopping list for the holidays?

GRAHAM: Well, yeah, not that I could afford $2,000 right away. But, you know, even if my parent company, Comcast, NBCUniversal, wasn't an investor, I'd probably like to own one if I could.

KELLY: They are fun. I have tried them.


Looks like the Peleton marketing team will get that bonus.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 8:21 AM on December 5, 2019 [13 favorites]


How long does it take to earn fifteen million merits?
posted by peeedro at 8:22 AM on December 5, 2019 [49 favorites]


Yeah peacheater, that was my thought about all of this. There were a few choices along the way that they could have made to make it clear that this was what she wanted or that this was something that excited her. It's just a lot of small choices that add up to a more creepy whole that gets me.
posted by Carillon at 8:23 AM on December 5, 2019 [6 favorites]


My favorite take on it is Eva Victor's.
posted by jquinby at 8:23 AM on December 5, 2019 [27 favorites]


Yes, I think this actress's face just makes her look perpetually anxious.

In meme genealogy terms it does feel like Hide The Pain Harold's grand-niece. I've got a friend with similar resting-anxious-eyes sometimes, humans' face-parsing hardware is a little weird and over-excitable.

But also I agree with general feeling that this isn't primarily a case of mis-cast eyebrows; there's a lot of weird cultural and social storytelling baggage wrapped up into this, some of which might not be there if it was a 60- or 120-second spot where it didn't feel so cut down for marketing concision but some of it is just a little weird. Which might not even be worth a blink by itself (I mean "a little weird" captures basically every medical ad ever made, too), but a little weird plus conspicuous branding plus a little detail like some scene-stealing eyebrows and here we are.
posted by cortex at 8:24 AM on December 5, 2019 [9 favorites]


How long does it take to earn fifteen million merits?

You look a little worried.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 8:25 AM on December 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


Weirdest Black Mirror episode yet.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 8:27 AM on December 5, 2019 [13 favorites]


It's a stressful ad to watch, especially after seeing it about twenty times over Thanksgiving. I mean, it's honest... the holiday season and gifts are all about obligation, pressure, and anxiety. But usually they try and, you know, disguise those feelings in ads.
posted by lefty lucky cat at 8:28 AM on December 5, 2019 [8 favorites]


I find any bicycle that doesn't move no matter how hard you pedal to be a ghastly foreshadowing of a punitive afterlife. What's next—a sidewalk the never lets you move forward, a set of stairs to a floor you'll never reach, or an unseen boat forever becalmed in a sea of television screens?
posted by sonascope at 8:28 AM on December 5, 2019 [40 favorites]


Also people who run / bike / whatever are always taking selfies and sharing Instagram stories etc. so the protagonist documenting her journey is completely on-point. This is definitely a case of the ad not landing outside of its target demographic.
posted by grumpybear69 at 8:28 AM on December 5, 2019 [4 favorites]


MetaFilter: a ghastly foreshadowing of a punitive afterlife
posted by chavenet at 8:29 AM on December 5, 2019 [38 favorites]


the holiday season and gifts are all about obligation, pressure, and anxiety. But usually they try and, you know, disguise those feelings in ads

They are generally also supposed to maintain the fiction that exercise is something women do only for themselves, because it’s so totally fun and empowering.
posted by Ralston McTodd at 8:33 AM on December 5, 2019 [7 favorites]


My wife read this to me, and it's how I'm processing this:

Husband to already rail-thin wife: "Here's a pair of boy's medium pants. Don't fucking touch me until you fit in them."
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 8:37 AM on December 5, 2019 [23 favorites]


If your stock loses almost a billion dollars in value after your viral marketing campaign, is that definitive proof that online advertising is effective?
posted by madajb at 8:38 AM on December 5, 2019 [11 favorites]


I think someone should give me a Peloton so I can see for myself how awful they are. I'll take a subscription as well.
posted by betweenthebars at 8:39 AM on December 5, 2019 [6 favorites]


I love imagining the life beyond the commercial - there's a GM one where hubby buys a SUV and a pickup and wife takes hubby's pickup and the hubby looks slightly angry that he's going to have to drive GM's brand new maroon SUV. I imagine him getting angrier and angrier at the wife and his SUV while stuck in traffic.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:42 AM on December 5, 2019 [15 favorites]


This is something they could have fixed in post processing by removing the Peloton. And husband. Just have her take that 2.5k+ and go on a vacation or something.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 8:43 AM on December 5, 2019 [6 favorites]


I'm looking forward to Peloton's attempt at gender-balancing the situation. I imagine they'll run an ad where the wife gifts her husband a chainsaw, and he actually uses it to cut down that tree in the garden.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 8:43 AM on December 5, 2019 [4 favorites]


Yes, I think this actress's face just makes her look perpetually anxious.

To me, she just looks like she needs a good dump.
They might like to rethink the design of the saddle.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 8:45 AM on December 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


there's a GM one where hubby buys a SUV and a pickup and wife takes hubby's pickup and the hubby looks slightly angry that he's going to have to drive GM's brand new maroon SUV.

I feel like (aside from the gender and relationship issues), this ad is an intentional upper-middle-class-ifying of those ads. "We all know that you can't just drop $30K on a car as a surprise, but you can probably afford $2K, right? Just put on your credit card, man."
posted by Etrigan at 8:46 AM on December 5, 2019 [3 favorites]


Pretty sure I bought my wife a (non Peloton) exercise bike for Christmas two years ago.
posted by lester at 8:49 AM on December 5, 2019


To be fair they lost a billion in stock value because they are a ridiculously overcapitalized (relative to earnings) unicorn play and those are going out of fashion.
posted by spitbull at 8:50 AM on December 5, 2019 [5 favorites]


The idea of paying a monthly fee for an in-home piece of exercise equipment blows my mind. We only pay a little more than that for the Y and they have a weight room and a pool.
posted by octothorpe at 8:50 AM on December 5, 2019 [13 favorites]


but you can probably afford $2K, right? Just put on your credit card, man.

Right. Peloton even offers 39 month financing.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:50 AM on December 5, 2019


Also for less than $2245 and a monthly subscription to Peloton, you can come over and shovel my driveway every time it snows and mow my lawn all the rest of the year and I’ll videotape you and post it to YouTube and also yell at you if it is your thing. It’s a long driveway and it gets a lot of snow.
posted by spitbull at 8:51 AM on December 5, 2019 [44 favorites]


Yes, I think this actress's face just makes her look perpetually anxious.

This whole ordeal has probably been very difficult for her.
posted by Evstar at 8:55 AM on December 5, 2019 [5 favorites]


I assume the appeal of a Peloton is not the bike itself, but the social aspect of the integrated application. Committing to exercise is really hard and doing it with other people makes it easier, even if those people are on a little screen. That's why running groups, biking groups, gym classes etc. are so popular.

One of the major reasons their stock is tanking is because they recently released a digital-only subscription where you can use the app with the equipment you already have, thereby gutting the sales of their bike.
posted by grumpybear69 at 8:58 AM on December 5, 2019 [6 favorites]


They are generally also supposed to maintain the fiction that exercise is something women do only for themselves, because it’s so totally fun and empowering.

I mean as a woman who has been running for 2 decades at this point, who has been able run away from men who clearly meant to do her harm, who has found great mental peace and tranquility running, who has been happily single for years now and plans to stay that way for the foreseeable future... I'm not sure what you mean by this. Yes exercise to me is something I do for myself and is definitely empowering as hell. And fuck Peloton, and this ad is misogynist as fuck
posted by aiglet at 8:59 AM on December 5, 2019 [25 favorites]


doubling down on the ad

There's something about the aesthetic of ads like this (woman exercising with inspirational music) that makes the marketing and executive teams seemingly incapable of self-reflection. A local health care system is currently blitzing one that depicts a woman who almost died from pregnancy complications jogging through scenic nearby areas, with a message like "trendy workout clothing and headphones are meaningless compared to human life".

In and of itself that's a pretty great message, but they chose to portray this by having her tear off her clothing and personal effects and toss them haphazardly into the aforementioned scenic areas. I reached out to tell then I found this problematic and was met with a response that was 95% how-dare-you-suggest-to-impugn-this-woman's-personal-struggle-even-if-depicted-by-gratuitous-littering and 5% assurance that the film crew cleaned up after her.
posted by 7segment at 9:03 AM on December 5, 2019 [2 favorites]


It's mentioned in the CNBC article, but the buzzfeed article about this clarifies that in support of their claims of an "outpouring of support" the Peloton rep sent CNBC just three emails and a facebook post. Hah!
posted by Grither at 9:05 AM on December 5, 2019 [4 favorites]


the commercial seemed normal to me until they're sitting on the couch watching all her progress? videos and then the secondhand embarrassment of imagining sitting my partner and myself down in front of the big screen to watch multiple minutes of video of myself i took as, presumably, a christmas gift to him killed me instantly. unrelatable

but i would be so pumped if that imaginary partner got me a peloton honestly, assuming our finances were still separate lol, i'm deeply suspicious of the whole thing but the instructors still make me so happy when i watch them. love to feel valued by a company
posted by gaybobbie at 9:05 AM on December 5, 2019 [7 favorites]


Also ties in nicely with the "I'm putting my Peloton in the center of my living room" theme
posted by Mchelly at 9:06 AM on December 5, 2019 [14 favorites]


spitbull: "To be fair they lost a billion in stock value because they are a ridiculously overcapitalized (relative to earnings) unicorn play and those are going out of fashion."

Instagramming yourself while watching a video on a small screen and pedaling furiously to earn points without actually going anywhere is as good a metaphor for the current unicorn mania as you'll get.
posted by chavenet at 9:09 AM on December 5, 2019 [24 favorites]


I guess I'm glad Canadian Tal Bachman (son of Randy) got some money out of his one hit otherwise it is pretty bad ad. Can you use the bike without a monthly subscription?
posted by Ashwagandha at 9:10 AM on December 5, 2019


I feel like the commercial was aimed at men, not women. Which is partly what irks me about it. Can you imagine a gender-flipped version of this, where a wife buys her husband a Peloton and it’s supposed to be a year-long inspirational challenge and thoughtful gift? A lot of these new exercise things are marketed to women, shouting the message that they’re some kind of quasi-religious experience, while whispering the same old message of “stay fit for your hubby, having kids is no excuse.”
posted by sallybrown at 9:10 AM on December 5, 2019 [38 favorites]


Seems perfectly hellish, to me.
posted by Dean_Paxton at 9:13 AM on December 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


I feel like the commercial was aimed at men, not women.

That's the feeling I got to, that it was designed to generally look like an ad to appeal to women, with a message specifically to men: get her this, it's something that upper-middle class men buy for their wives, they appreciate the hell out of it! I wonder where the ad was mostly showing up.
posted by skewed at 9:27 AM on December 5, 2019 [11 favorites]


7segment: Yeah, that ad is really weird with the way she is just throwing stuff into the brush. Running in particular is the least gear-heavy sport, and to say it "isn't about the shoes" is complete rubbish. Getting the right shoes can mean the difference between debilitating calf / knee pain and actually achieving your running goals. They don't have to be expensive shoes, but they have to work for you and your physiology.

Also: ditching your water bottle in the desert in the middle of a long run is a great way to end up bonking or passing out in the hot sun.
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:31 AM on December 5, 2019 [2 favorites]


I wonder where the ad was mostly showing up.

No surprises here. All over college football game this past weekend.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 9:31 AM on December 5, 2019 [8 favorites]


I found the ad obnoxious -- I thought it infantilised the woman and made her seem neurotic (she's "nervous" before her first ride? It's a stationary bike! The F is she nervous about, getting lost?!) and I too found the unspoken backstory to be weird and creepy. Like... her husband gave her an ultimatum to get back in shape after getting fat (!) after the birth of her child, and at the end she's tearfully showing him the video in which she documents how hard she tried to please him. If that wasn't what they were going for... I don't know what they were going for.
posted by confluency at 9:32 AM on December 5, 2019 [55 favorites]


I wonder where the ad was mostly showing up.

I was trying to figure out where I saw it, because I watch basically zero TV. It was either during the Thanskgiving parade on NBC, during a Lifetime or Hallmark Christmas movie, or during a showing of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation on AMC. Those are the only possibilities. Only one of those things is coded as "for dudes," but I suspect that's where I saw it.

Either way, I only saw it once, but I was gobsmacked. It's just so super-gross.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:37 AM on December 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


It looks like nobody has posted my favourite response yet.
posted by confluency at 9:40 AM on December 5, 2019 [13 favorites]


(I'd forgotten some of the other awful specifics -- being excited that a computer program can be personalised to say your name is adorable when you're three years old, and a little worrying in a grown-ass adult.)
posted by confluency at 9:46 AM on December 5, 2019 [5 favorites]


Yeah buying exercise equipment for someone else, unasked for, is even worse than buying them housekeeping tools. I mean if partner says, "hey, birthday coming up, i'd like a stationary bike" then that's ok. But the very idea of unasked for gear is appalling 1950s leave-it-to-Beaver bullshit.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:47 AM on December 5, 2019 [7 favorites]


It looks like nobody has posted my favorite response yet.
posted by Reyturner at 9:48 AM on December 5, 2019 [14 favorites]


If my partner asked for an exercise bike, I would consider buying them one. (Certainly not a Peloton, but maybe a significantly less expensive exercise bike.) But they have to ask for the damn thing. I would not assume they want exercise gear unless they were already really into exercise and fitness stuff.

Or, yeah, what seanmpuckett said.
posted by SansPoint at 9:53 AM on December 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


Or at the end of the commercial, the husband says, "A whole year. How do you feel?"
And she just crane kicks him in the face.
He goes down, hitting his head on the Peloton. There is a loud crack.
"I'm nervous," she says as she feeds his corpse to the woodchipper.
The Peloton goes in next.
A ONCE IN A LIFETIME GIFT the screen reads.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:56 AM on December 5, 2019 [26 favorites]


I feel like the commercial was aimed at men, not women. Which is partly what irks me about it. Can you imagine a gender-flipped version of this, where a wife buys her husband a Peloton and it’s supposed to be a year-long inspirational challenge and thoughtful gift? A lot of these new exercise things are marketed to women, shouting the message that they’re some kind of quasi-religious experience, while whispering the same old message of “stay fit for your hubby, having kids is no excuse.”
posted by sallybrown at 12:10 PM on December 5


The Peloton ads last Christmas* were themed "His and Hers" ads, one where the husband buys it for his wife and then sneaks out to use it in their...exercise shed(?) while she's asleep or out and one where she discovers the present ahead of time and sneaks out to use it while he's asleep. I don't think in any of the ads it was suggested that a woman might buy one for a man.

*My spouse asked for an exercise bike last year so I did some research and Peloton ads were all over my YouTube for a month. We got one that was much much less expensive
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:00 AM on December 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


Here in Boston, people's attention has been drawn to the "Grace from Boston" line, including disbelief that Grace is actually in Boston, based on the view out her window (Concord or Brookline maybe, but definitely not Boston Proper). Grace from Boston puts herself in Brookline.

And yesterday, after Yet Another Horrible Morning on the Orange Line, one rider turned to Grace to express her worries about the evening commute home.

Bonus Peloton Woman Yelling at Cat.
posted by adamg at 10:01 AM on December 5, 2019 [2 favorites]


Well, now I know that Peloton exercise bikes are a thing I can buy. Holiday advertising is truly a miracle.
posted by swift at 10:05 AM on December 5, 2019 [2 favorites]


My friend got a "used" exercise bike she found on nextdoor for, like, $20. The only exercise the thing has ever instigated was when I carted it home and set it up in the guest bedroom.
posted by sjswitzer at 10:10 AM on December 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


I am absolutely full of mirth about this MeFe post. There needs to be a German word for this phenomena: I saw Eva Victor's hilarious video out of context a few days ago. I knew that Peleton (I'm using Eva's original misspelling because fuck brands; they're Peleton now) sold exercise bikes for $2,000 or $5,000 or whatever is apparently not an obscene amount to spend on a late capitalism toy. But it wasn't until I saw a second tweet that I realized Peleton must have created some cringey holiday ad. Durchparodieneuigkeitenentdecken: when you discover news through parodic subtweets.

I haven't seen the ad. And I'm not going to. And my opinions on it will still be right.

On the surface that's a horrifying thing to say, isn't it? Shouldn't I be willing to spend my limited time and attention on an ad for a $8,000 exercise bike before decrying it? Don't I care about evidence, and investigating claims for for myself?

Well, no. Not in this case. If you're sticking a fork into an electric socket for the twelfth time to see if it still shocks you, that's not rigor but something else. And if I want to give the benefit of the doubt to a company that sells $37,000 exercise bikes, that will be a gift left unreciprocated.

Okay, fine, I'll take a look at it...

...well that's 30 seconds I won't get back. Thanks, I hate it.

First things first: this story is a lie, right? We all understand that? It's fictional; there is no actual married couple, they're all actors, and the woman did not actually create a video diary of her trials and tribulations on the $412,000 exercise bike. It didn't happen, which made it fictional, but it was portrayed to make people hand over money, which makes it a lie.

So I was completely right to bash #Pelaton. Fuck them, fuck their misogynistic, no-publicity-is-bad-publicity, anxiety-capitalizing marketing mentality, and the only reason I'd ever touch one of their bikes is if I can upcycle it into a guillotine.

Second, Eva Victor's parody was even more spot on then I realized. Bravo.

My hope for the 21st century is that parody will be able to travel around the world before lies and marketing can get its boots on.
posted by AlSweigart at 10:18 AM on December 5, 2019 [11 favorites]


We had an exercise bike that sat in our garage unused for 9 years. I got rid of it last year and my spouse has yet to notice.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:20 AM on December 5, 2019 [2 favorites]


Well, now I know that Peloton exercise bikes are a thing I can buy avoid buying.

FTFY
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:24 AM on December 5, 2019


upcycle it into a guillotine

I see what you did there.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:27 AM on December 5, 2019 [3 favorites]


Peloton even offers 39 month financing.

I saw that at the mall, where they had a big kiosk thing out in the walkway. It was $79/mo for 39 month. And I was multiplying it out....uh, 80 x 40 is $3200! Minus 80, minus 39 = $3081. Now maybe it is worth it, I don't know, but, wow. What kind of, say, rowing machine, would three grand get you?
posted by thelonius at 10:27 AM on December 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


This is definitely a case of the ad not landing outside of its target demographic

I'm in the target demo (my building's gym has a couple! though I've only ever seen one person use them--I wish they'd put in a danged recumbent bike!) and it plays to some of the creepiest social pressures put on that demo. The implied collective weight surveillance to maintain male approval is just nasty. If the ad had bothered to put in some indication that the woman actually asked for it, it would not have been so grim, but as it is: of course your already stick-thin wife is going to want another device to keep the weight off, of course she'll become totally obsessed with it, of course it will "change her life" in some entirely non-specific way, of course she'll be deeply grateful to you for it. Ew.

Make an ad where the wife is an overweight mom of three who's said she wants to get in shape but is afraid to go to the gym because she thinks her body will be judged there and who would never spend that much money on herself and you'd be showing the actual best use case for the product. But that particular demographic is not even supposed to admit that such women exist, or that we could be one.
posted by praemunire at 10:28 AM on December 5, 2019 [21 favorites]


What kind of, say, rowing machine, would three grand get you?

The Hydrow is only $2,200 and only $38 month for the membership - both (just barely) cheaper than Peleton! Or finance it for as low as $62/month.

Or you can buy a really kick-ass rowing machine for about half that, and watch free motivational videos.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 10:50 AM on December 5, 2019


AlSweigart, please keep commenting until the peleton swallows the entire GDP of the orion arm.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 10:55 AM on December 5, 2019 [3 favorites]


Eva Victor is a goddamn treasure.

But yeah, Pelotons seems CRAZY expensive, and I say this as a guy with a road bike worth ~ $7K. But I can GO PLACES on it.
posted by uberchet at 11:05 AM on December 5, 2019 [5 favorites]


What kind of, say, rowing machine, would three grand get you?

You needn't go anywhere close to that. You can get a brand new Concept 2 Model D for under $1000. Same erg used by every college crew in the world. $3K will get you a used single (one-person rowing shell). Like, the actual boat. Oars included!
posted by jquinby at 11:10 AM on December 5, 2019 [7 favorites]


I honestly don't see any ad with the plot of "man gets exercise equipment for wife, wife is happy about it" going over well. There is too much cultural baggage around that exchange for it to be interpreted as anything other than body-shaming misogyny, regardless of any details in the ad that suggest otherwise.

To wit: in the Peloton ad, the wife's eyes turn to saucers when she sees the bike and excitedly exclaims "A Peloton!!" There could be multiple reasons for this:

1. She's been asking for an exercise bike but didn't expect such an extravagant gift. As she's gotten older she's begun to think about getting more serious about fitness since maintaining cardiovascular health and lean muscle mass are correlated with longevity and lower incidence of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.
2. She's extremely vain due to crippling insecurity which is the result of living in a patriarchal society. Or maybe just plain vain.
3. She's been trained to display conspicuous gratitude for anything her overbearing husband gets her, regardless of the personal cost. She's really good at hiding her horror, but her eyebrows, like Shakira's hips, don't lie.

We don't know! That backstory isn't there. So the ad is like a Rorschach test - different people will see different things, none of which are actually present in the video. All we know is that she doesn't react to the present with indifference or trepidation.

Now: why does she look nervous when starting to use the bike?

1. She's normally a runner but a recent bout of plantar fasciitis has benched her. She's never was much of a biker and is worried that it might inflame her hemorrhoids. No chamois in her stocking! Plus people will be seeing her stats and a coach will be judging her. Scary!
2. She's deeply afraid of disappointing her monster of a husband who will throw all of the LaCroix in the trash if she doesn't at least place in the top 10 within a week.
3. She is recently recovered from a brush with #disease and wants to be able to play outside with her daughter but isn't sure that her body will cooperate in getting back to running-through-the-leaves shape. What if this was all a big mistake?

So many different stories that this ad could tell!

And what about the video at the end? Why did she document this journey and put it together for display on their 73" OLED 4K smart TV?

1. She, like many people who are into fitness, is obsessive about documenting her progress and rightfully proud of what she has accomplished. Her husband often has to sit through hours of her going on about stats and aches and pains and funny things that happened during her sessions. (I do this to grumpybearbride re: running!) The husband humors her because he loves her and is proud of her accomplishments.
2. The husband, who is really a snake person, has demanded that she video herself every time she rides the bike and compile those videos for analysis so he can dock her allowance if she has not used it enough to validate the cost of the device.
3. She is obsessed with becoming a reality TV star and that is her audition tape. Her husband doubles as her agent.

The opportunities are endless!
posted by grumpybear69 at 11:12 AM on December 5, 2019 [26 favorites]


Oh and if you need motivation, see if a local club will send a juniors coxwain over to yell at you.
posted by jquinby at 11:12 AM on December 5, 2019 [7 favorites]


Also for less than $2245 and a monthly subscription to Peloton, you can come over and shovel my driveway every time it snows and mow my lawn all the rest of the year and I’ll videotape you and post it to YouTube and also yell at you if it is your thing. It’s a long driveway and it gets a lot of snow.

I will second this offer, and can sweeten the deal with a few acres of bramble to whack, firewood to split and if you still want more punishment you can take a pickaxe, sledge and pry bar to the driveway to fill in the potholes. I'll even get a load of gravel delivered and you can haul it up the hill and spread it by hand.

I'm also very good at yelling.
posted by loquacious at 11:28 AM on December 5, 2019 [3 favorites]


Disgraced "Peloton Husband" Speaks Out

Do, uh, wait. The entire premise of this is that people don’t know the actors in ads are acting?
posted by zachlipton at 11:46 AM on December 5, 2019 [5 favorites]


Really it's a little more like "Pysch Today Contributor Leverages Zeitgeist By Knowing Actor In Recent Controversial Commercial" is my take from that article, zachlipton; there's not so much in there about people confusing acting with reality as about the actor having a hard time grappling with being associated with a role and product that's getting harshly criticized.
posted by cortex at 11:58 AM on December 5, 2019 [6 favorites]


I think someone in a wine bar must have told the marketing department that the word peloton, in cycling speak, suggests leadership and superiority.

Quite the opposite.

"Le peloton représente le groupe majoritaire, et ceux qui parviennent à s'extirper de ce groupe sont nommés les 'échappés'." (Ou en anglais :- The peloton represents the majority group, and those who manage to escape from it are called the 'breakaway'.)


The idea is, it replicates the experience of a spinning class, so “peloton” makes proper sense. You’re cycling in a group, except alone.

I was looking at working for them when they were moving in to my city, but man the cult atmosphere with them makes crossfitters look dispassionate..
posted by rodlymight at 12:06 PM on December 5, 2019 [3 favorites]


Also for less than $2245 and a monthly subscription to Peloton, you can come over and shovel my driveway every time it snows and mow my lawn all the rest of the year and I’ll videotape you and post it to YouTube and also yell at you if it is your thing. It’s a long driveway and it gets a lot of snow.

You know, you say this with (one hopes) a bit of sardonicism, but I have done almost every kind of exercise there be, weight-lifting, baseball, football, basketball training, situps, pushups, chinups, yoga, long distance run-walks, bicycling, etc., and nothing, I mean nothing, got me in buff, cut, GQ cover shape* like the two summers I spent on an archeology dig, shovel in hand 6 hours a day. So, throw in that drainage ditch you need on the back 5 and your offer is pretty solid.

*('Course, I changed back).
posted by Chitownfats at 12:08 PM on December 5, 2019 [3 favorites]


Imagine thinking you've got a hot scoop because you interviewed the husband from that commercial!
(It's a bit like, if in 1984 Entertainment Tonight did a feature story about the silent lady standing next to Clara Peller in the "Where's the Beef?" ad.)
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:09 PM on December 5, 2019 [4 favorites]


On the one hand, when you take a role you don't really know how it's going to turn out. That part is not on you. But then when it turns out terrible and you don't recognize it... well, there's still the personal investment. Nobody likes to write off sunk costs.

So I feel for the guy... he didn't sign up for this. But maybe he could recognize that the machinery ground him into a kind of sausage he doesn't like? Or would that be a career-killer?
posted by sjswitzer at 12:09 PM on December 5, 2019


For a fraction of the price of one of these bikes, you could attire yourself head-to-toe in the fanciest winter cycling wear, stop huffing the farts of everyone in your closed-up winter domicile, and ride outdoors in fresh air. Sorry for the rant, but I hate exercising indoors.
posted by exogenous at 12:33 PM on December 5, 2019 [2 favorites]


But then when it turns out terrible and you don't recognize it... well, there's still the personal investment.

The Rock (and I'm being generous here since he has done some legit good work) sleeps at night just fine.
posted by The_Vegetables at 12:44 PM on December 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


Yeah buying exercise equipment for someone else, unasked for, is even worse than buying them housekeeping tools. I mean if partner says, "hey, birthday coming up, i'd like a stationary bike" then that's ok. But the very idea of unasked for gear is appalling 1950s leave-it-to-Beaver bullshit.

Agreed - I bought my wife a stationary bike a few years ago, but she explicitly asked for it. Giving exercise equipment unprompted kind of sends a message, whether you want to or not.

Ours was a good buy - we both work long hours, exercising outdoors is a major challenge this time of year (no daylight + traffic + poor street lighting), and we have limited space in our house for gear. Also we didn't spend $2200 (maybe like a tenth of that for a basic Schwinn) - nothing fancy but it gets the job done. I could imagine spending that on an actual high-end cycle, but something that doesn't even move? No way.
posted by photo guy at 12:45 PM on December 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


I hate exercising indoors.

Fair enough, you do you. I myself hate heatstroke, hypothermia, getting run over, and huffing exhaust fumes when I exercise, so indoor's fine with me.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:04 PM on December 5, 2019 [11 favorites]


The peloton represents the majority group, and those who manage to escape from it are called the 'breakaway'

anyone who has once watched any part of the tour de france should know that. i guess the company-namer never saw it.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 1:14 PM on December 5, 2019


(I'd forgotten some of the other awful specifics -- being excited that a computer program can be personalised to say your name is adorable when you're three years old, and a little worrying in a grown-ass adult.)

The Peloton service features live classes, with live instructors, who call out the names of the people who have joined that specific session. So when she's excited that she got called out by the instructor, it's not because she's a fucking dimwit easily fooled by a computer program.
posted by palomar at 1:36 PM on December 5, 2019 [17 favorites]


The company originally started advertising DURING the Tour, it was the first place I ever saw ads for it several years ago, long before the bikes became a mainstream brand. The name, as mentioned above, is a reference to the way you are "racing" with/against other people via the interwebs even if not in physical space.

Maybe I'm just a gym rat/exercise junkie but I didn't have the reaction I was expecting after all the hullabaloo online about the ad. Like grumpybear said, you bring to it your own perspective, and although I HATE indoor cardio I do strongly identify with the "I'm going to set a goal for myself and when I achieve it, it feels good" message I think they were trying to send. Was it dumb for the woman to be nervous? IDK, I've been going to my gym for 6 weeks now and I'm still nervous when I try a new piece of equipment. It was a little overwrought but they have 30 seconds to tell a story, it has to cram a lot in. I saw the video-watching at the end as something she made to thank him by showing him just how much she still loves the gift and how much it means to her. I again think the marketers overdid it trying for emotional impact but I can see what they were going for.

Of course this is assuming she wanted it in the first place but I have no idea why you'd assume otherwise. It's a commercial, kayfabe is every character is wants/is excited about the product.
posted by misskaz at 1:40 PM on December 5, 2019 [6 favorites]


I'd buy a Peloton if it also had a feature where if one cyclist slows down just a little bit then everyone else in the riding group is thrown violently off their bikes and lose several square inches of skin from their haunches.
posted by srboisvert at 1:42 PM on December 5, 2019 [11 favorites]


You can get a perfectly functional exercise bike for about $300. This is stupid.
posted by aspersioncast at 1:43 PM on December 5, 2019


They can tell you what to do
But they'll make a fool of you and it's all right
Baby, it's all right
We're on a road to nowhere
We're on a road to nowhere

I suspect marriage is hard. Still, metaphor-laden gifts are the worst. One Christmas, my dad bought snow tires for my mom.
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:43 PM on December 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


I honestly don't see any ad with the plot of "man gets exercise equipment for wife, wife is happy about it" going over well.

As a challenge, I considered this. Here's what I came up with:
Wife: you know what I REALLY want for Christmas? exercise equipment
Husband: I know you love to exercise, but if I get you exercise equipment every person of our acquaintance will yell at me for being a sexist jerk who wants his wife to lose weight. let's buy it together as a non-christmas thing.

anyway that's all I came up with. My husband bought me a super nice nonstick pan for christmas once and his coworkers were horrified and kept suggesting diamonds instead. A great gift for me, who wears a plain wedding band as my only jewelry except in the winter (too cold, might lose it) or the summer (too hot, my fingers are fat).

My take on this ad is unfortunate eyebrow situation meets stupid ad concept. Although there was one very convincing tweet (sorry I can't find it) that had a side-by-side comparison of Peloton Wife and Lakeith Stanfield in Get Out.
posted by Emmy Rae at 1:45 PM on December 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


Aspirational exercise culture is one of the more embarrassing inventions of the 20th Century. Like most of the other developments of the current era, Peloton seems to have doubled-down on the worst excesses of the previous one. It's like Neti pot evangelism, or other people's sex lives. Just go get some exercise and please don't tell me about it.
posted by aspersioncast at 1:50 PM on December 5, 2019 [7 favorites]


I thought this was a fair take on the ad by Amanda Mull:
Before-and-after photos of newly thin bodies have long been an element of fitness marketing, and now Peloton wants to make the case for a before-and-after of the soul. As it turns out, that is a little tougher to telegraph.
[...]
Now, it’s trying to figure out the same thing as a million other wellness brands: how to talk about exercise and wellbeing without emphasizing ideals of physical perfection that feel outdated to a lot of potential customers.
[...]
A holistic mind-body wellness journey might just be a little too conceptual to make for a good ad. For the commercial to make sense to many people, they have to already have a fairly detailed sense of why Peloton’s devotees find the device worthwhile, which makes it a risky strategy for a medium that reaches millions of people. Those people all live in a culture where exercise has long been regarded as punishment for the joy of indulgence, and where women are supposed to maintain an impossible level of physical perfection well into middle-age, lest they face the denigration of both culture at large and their own romantic partners.
The ad probably would have been fine-ish, at least within the bounds of whether any ad is fine, if it dropped the surprise gift thing and acknowledged that dropping $2,200+$40/mo is, where that's even a possibility which it obviously isn't for many people, going to be a joint decision in most marriages. Make it a thing the couple do together, and it seems like it would have been so much better.

As the article points out, Peloton's service doesn't really use "weight as a tool of shame-motivation, unlike many fitness brands." The bike does have a calories burned estimator, but the main focus is on output and encouraging regular use. I don't own one, and wouldn't at that price, but have been using it at the gym to my complete and utter surprise as a person who hates exercise classes and really all forms of being told what to do when exercising. The instructors I've seen pretty much stay in the "yay for showing up, carpe diem, take this energy and use it to achieve your goals today" realm of motivational pablum without shaming (and they can't see you anyway). I'm not really big on the whole "wellness journey" concept, but I acknowledge it works for some people and think that's the energy, one intended to be more healthy and positive, the ad was trying to capture yet just didn't achieve at all.
posted by zachlipton at 1:54 PM on December 5, 2019 [5 favorites]


Joint Rule #001 in our marriage is "no gifts that plug in, no exceptions" and this whole situation is a great confirmation that it needs to stay at #001.
posted by JoeZydeco at 2:07 PM on December 5, 2019 [4 favorites]


Of course this is assuming she wanted it in the first place but I have no idea why you'd assume otherwise.

Because that assumption comes from the layer of toxic patriarchal bodyshaming BS dumped on women all the time, in which they are expected to strive constantly to be skinnier (and to want to do so) in order to remain attractive to men. (It's hardly unusual for women to get gifts from their husbands that reflect their husbands' desires rather than their own generally.) Combine that with her weird affect and of course the ad reads strangely. Her affect would still be mockable but the whole thing would seem a little less offputting if the ad had bothered to insert just one line implying that the gift had been requested.

People, don't give your partners exercise equipment unless they ask for it/are already engaged in the relevant sport. Even if you're fighting the interpretation of this particular ad, take my word on this one generally.
posted by praemunire at 2:36 PM on December 5, 2019 [8 favorites]


Because that assumption comes from the layer of toxic patriarchal bodyshaming BS dumped on women all the time, in which they are expected to strive constantly to be skinnier (and to want to do so) in order to remain attractive to men.

My sentence is meant to be read along with the one following it; that's why they are in the same paragraph. Of course in real life that is a thing but in commercial kayfabe the whole idea is "yay everyone in this 30-second universe is excited about this thing you should buy!"

I guess that's what's throwing me - I would totally be on board with saying "oh hey this commercial could be [unintentionally?] reinforcing toxic patriarchal bodyshaming BS and that's why it's problematic" but a lot of what I'm reading is people upset for/about the woman within the storyline of the commercial and that's where I guess I am outside of the norm in my reaction to it.

Like I hate the buy your spouse a car for Christmas commercials because who the fuck takes on 40-80k in household debt as a surprise but I also don't feel bad for the particular characters in the particular commercials.

Honestly it feels like some folks are talking about the problematic bigger picture issues the story could be illustrating or used as an example of, while others are talking about the swing-and-a-miss execution of this particular ad and how weird it is, and getting those two different critiques conflated - which I admit I may be doing - is confusing. One doesn't necessitate the other, but nor does it negate it, I guess.
posted by misskaz at 3:15 PM on December 5, 2019 [2 favorites]


"Like I hate the buy your spouse a car for Christmas commercials because who the fuck takes on 40-80k in household debt as a surprise but I also don't feel bad for the particular characters in the particular commercials."
Seeing all these commercials this time of year, and looking at where they're set, I doubt these characters are going into debt. The cars are probably a fraction of hubby's year-end bonus.

For some folks, money means nothing. $2500 for an exercise bike seems like crazy talk to me, particularly since I've seen used Schwinn's at Goodwill for $50. But you do get to brag to your friends.
posted by Marky at 3:40 PM on December 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


For me the dialogue shatters the kayfabe. "Five days in a row! Are you surprised? I am." -- so she expected not to enjoy it for more than a few days? If you want something, don't you usually have a mental image of yourself being excited about it for more than a week?
posted by Westringia F. at 3:45 PM on December 5, 2019 [5 favorites]


I think it's to contrast how people will buy expensive gym memberships come January, and not make use of them -- see how different it is, having the equipment at home? Like being in a group class, only better, because there's no travel involved -- and the instructor still notices your hard work.
posted by Iris Gambol at 3:58 PM on December 5, 2019 [2 favorites]


Similarly, there's a shot of the woman on the bike and talking with her daughter -- they're getting to spend time together! while she gets her exercise in.
posted by Iris Gambol at 4:00 PM on December 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


or during a showing of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation on AMC

After the soulless path the husband has put them on with this "gift" I predict that by next Christmas she'll be screaming, "Why is the floor wet, Todd?!"
posted by Ber at 4:00 PM on December 5, 2019


I rode a Peleton bike regularly and liked it.

+ at my gym, did not pay months of rent for it
+ exercise you can do sitting down
+ exercise in a place that is bright and warm and safe 24 hours a day
+ you're not going anywhere you actually need to go on your road bike anyhow
+ someone else makes the playlist and tells you what to do
+ they are also saying Millennial-ish upbeat things to you, which was surprisingly nice
+ exercise bikes and spin bikes are different things, and spin bikes are less awful
+ a spin bike that actually quantifies your effort is even better
+ it actually adjusted to fit my body, unlike most gym equipment (e.g. the lowest setting for the squat cage safety bars is slightly too high)
+ it was in its own nook so more personal space than the treadmills
+ it is called Peloton because the notion is you're "in it together" with the leader and other folks in the filmed class, they bring this up regularly in the patter, seriously, I've known what a peloton is since I was a kid thirty years ago, it's not a niche term you should be smug about knowing. Ahem.

The commercial is a horrorshow. The product serves a useful niche.
posted by momus_window at 4:05 PM on December 5, 2019 [17 favorites]


But you do get to brag to your friends.

I suppose it's always good to have easy ways to eliminate superficial people from your social circle.
posted by aspersioncast at 4:31 PM on December 5, 2019


I rode a Peleton bike regularly and liked it.

the taste of the cherry vitamin water
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:31 PM on December 5, 2019 [9 favorites]


"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.."
Once we're through roasting Peloton for the actual add content, can we have a go at their use of "impacted" as a past-tense verb rather than an unfortunate dental condition?
posted by Nerd of the North at 4:46 PM on December 5, 2019 [3 favorites]


I’m not even okay with that use of ‘gifted’.
posted by clew at 4:56 PM on December 5, 2019 [9 favorites]


anyone who has once watched any part of the tour de france should know that. i guess the company-namer never saw it.

If you've ever watched a whole stage you'll know the breakaway is almost always caught by the peloton due to their sheer force of numbers against the wind*.

The way to win a Tour de France stage, or the Tour overall, is to shelter in the peloton for as long as possible, piggybacking on everyone else's effort. Being in the breakaway, being independent, being interesting is not rewarded**.

Of course this product is called "peloton".

* except on very hilly stages, although those don't have much of a peloton.
** well you might get a couple of sprint points, but Sagan's going to be wearing the green jersey in Paris, and not you.
posted by grahamparks at 5:42 PM on December 5, 2019 [4 favorites]


We had an exercise bike that sat in our garage unused for 9 years. I got rid of it last year and my spouse has yet to notice.

Hence 39 months of financing. Peloton has calculated that you will use their product regularly for the first three months, but less and less for the rest of the first year. You’ll keep paying the monthly fee through the 2d year and get on it out of guilt once a month or so. Then in the third year you’ll get tired of the guilt and hide it in the garage, because anyway you needed that space for the 196 inch big LCD TV you got for Cyber Monday. At that point you’ll end the monthly subscription. And you’ll have a year and change to go before you’ve paid off the machine. You’ll be mad about that every time you see the charge on your Apple Pay statement. Peloton knows this, but profit, man. Then you’ll give it away to a neighbor or sell it on Craigslist for $300, right about as you pay it off, so you can put the 196 inch TV in that space in the garage because now they have 249 inch TVs with OLED screens that are $300 on Black Friday and even report your arguments with your spouse to Chinese intelligence services. Finally about a year later, after you’re done being mad at wasting 5 grand, you’ll be ripe for the next exercise fad. Peloton will be long gone but the new start up will be artisanal fitness done as a gig economy thing where you sign up to pay your neighbor $10 an hour to shovel their driveway or mow their lawn or spread gravel or whatever while they yell at you and shoot video for your ‘gram.

America, fuck yeah.
posted by spitbull at 5:46 PM on December 5, 2019 [5 favorites]


Aspirational exercise culture is one of the more embarrassing inventions of the 20th Century. Like most of the other developments of the current era, Peloton seems to have doubled-down on the worst excesses of the previous one. It's like Neti pot evangelism, or other people's sex lives. Just go get some exercise and please don't tell me about it.

I wish I could like this 1000 times.
posted by sallybrown at 5:59 PM on December 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


Something about this smacks of NordicTrack. Fads come and go, especially exercise and diet fads. I will be Peloton has another five years before a steep and sudden decline.
posted by Ber at 7:26 PM on December 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


I'm getting the feeling that between this and the Away post above, people seem to have lost any concept of basic marketing. Like, "what is your value proposition?" "What needs are you trying to fill?" "Are you communicating this effectively?" Maybe I'm just old fashioned and out-of-touch, but you can't just sell a bunch of Instagram photos and nothing else.


Of course, the Away post brings up a whole bunch of other issues about how, in the age of Late Capital, intellectual labor is now subject to the same methods of surveillance and the same techniques for extracting surplus value that have always been applied to manual labor within an industrial system, but that's probably a topic for a different time.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:30 PM on December 5, 2019 [3 favorites]


On the one hand, when you take a role you don't really know how it's going to turn out. That part is not on you. But then when it turns out terrible and you don't recognize it...

If this thing stays viral for a week or two, that actor and his female counterpart should be able to ride this thing all the way to the bank... the late-night shows would love to use them in a skit or two, I'm sure, and their lawyers can make sure it avoids conflicts with their Peloton contract.
posted by mmoncur at 8:42 PM on December 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


That being said, I would absolutely get Zwift, which you can link up to an actual trainer, and use your own bike, and which actually adjusts the resistance depending on whether you're climbing or descending on a simulated parcours.

This is because I live in a place where all the cold weather gear in the world won't help you on many of our winter days, and I hate riding a standard trainer, and Zwift has cool little road cycling graphics and you can ride with or against other users.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:56 PM on December 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


I totally get what they were going for and I'd kind of love someone to make me exercise every day in the comfort of my own tiny home but my God, has no one at this company seen Parks and Rec??

"Ann Perkins!" "Chris Traeger!"
posted by fshgrl at 10:08 PM on December 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


can we talk about actually why the peloton ad is so bad? the answer isn’t sexism, or that it’s hard to convey an inner journey in an ad

the problem is copywriting

THREAD

posted by joedan at 10:45 PM on December 5, 2019 [9 favorites]


This twitter thread by Amy Hoy seems to zero in specifically on what amounts to a sort of technical problem with the ad as its core problem: "the scriptwriters actually wrote OUR PERSPECTIVE to be the husband's perspective. all her work… is for us":
if the lady in the peloton ad made that face AT THE PELOTON and said "i'm kinda scared… but i'm gonna do it" — we wouldn't be talking about how gross it is

it's gross because
we feel gross because
she made that scared face AT US
The conceit of the ad is her sharing her personal journey, but by sharing it with us, it makes it look like she's doing it all for him, and the star of the commercial is the man who pulled out his credit card instead of the woman who did all the work.

So I guess despite what Hoy says in her first tweet, it does come back to sexism.
posted by zachlipton at 10:54 PM on December 5, 2019 [16 favorites]


"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.”

I truly despise this currently fashionable style of corporate non-apology, which manages to be smug, patronising, arrogant, ignorant and dishonest all in one. It's only marginally less offensive than Elon Musk's (or Carl Benjamin's) 'Buhhuh! It was a joke!'
posted by Cardinal Fang at 11:43 PM on December 5, 2019 [8 favorites]


I was just talking with a colleague about the new corporate apologetics, in the context of ubiquitous discourse about appropriations of indigenous cultural property. It’s a discourse at once fulsome in its unctuousness and utterly insincere, copping tropes from feminism and indigenous cultural traditions of conflict resolution, insisting that “we” are “better than that” or “this is not who we are” as a master trope. Yeah it is. That’s why you’re apologizing.

Worse yet is the next level — the ironically fake over the top “sincere” apology, followed with “we are story you were triggered” or whatever. And the sneaking suspicion that generating such “controversies” is the new marketing 101.

If you are sorry you say so, admit what you did was wrong, and outline concrete steps to redress the hurt, not vague future plans to “do better.”>
posted by spitbull at 5:29 AM on December 6, 2019 [2 favorites]


Came in to link to the Amy Hoy thread as well. It helped me to put my finger on the missing piece which explained why my revulsion was so visceral: it was absolutely the POV thing. Not only are you telling me this cringy story that I don't like, but you're making me feel complicit somehow by inserting me into it as the person I see as the antagonist. Ew.
posted by confluency at 6:19 AM on December 6, 2019 [1 favorite]


(I mean "a little weird" captures basically every medical ad ever made, too)

For what it's worth, medical adverts are hands down the weirdest thing about US television, when you come from a country where prescription medicines are not advertised on TV.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 6:50 AM on December 6, 2019 [7 favorites]


Reading the Psychology Today article, I came across this quote from the husband actor:

"I currently sit here hoping that I’ll be able to continue auditioning for commercials without any taint"

THE MAN HAS NO TAINT, PEOPLE, THIS IS THE REAL STORY
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:50 AM on December 6, 2019 [14 favorites]


Also, speaking of dystopian workout trends, behold a literal black mirror.
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:54 AM on December 6, 2019 [1 favorite]


I find any bicycle that doesn't move no matter how hard you pedal to be a ghastly foreshadowing of a punitive afterlife. What's next—a sidewalk the never lets you move forward, a set of stairs to a floor you'll never reach, or an unseen boat forever becalmed in a sea of television screens?

A college degree that does nothing positive for one's immediate or future financial situation.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:19 AM on December 6, 2019 [7 favorites]


This whole thing makes me think I might be on the spectrum. I don't get the visceral negative reactions to this. I think it says more about the person reacting and what kind of story they are creating in their head.

I assumed, because this is the Christmas season, that she had this on her list but wasn't really expecting to get it because it's so expensive. So she's thrilled, but also apprehensive because - now she has to commit to using it. After being mostly sedentary my entire life I decided to commit to going to the gym a couple years ago and it was really fucking hard. So I was empathizing with her the whole time.

Her recording it all on video is a little weird to me, but I know people like to do that for social media and whatnot. Whatever it takes to motivate you. I assumed she wanted to do it for her own self improvement, and it's weird to me that people would think the husband is forcing her to do it for his own gratification. That didn't even occur to me until I saw this thread. I'll just assume I'm the weird one here, but I learned a lot reading all your posts.
posted by Billy Rubin at 9:50 AM on December 6, 2019 [5 favorites]


You're not weird. People just project.
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:51 AM on December 6, 2019 [2 favorites]


$3K will get you a used single (one-person rowing shell). Like, the actual boat. Oars included!

To be fair the water around here at least will be a little crunchy for rowing on for the next 4-5 months. The same applies to road bikes. While I know a couple people who cycle year round I'm not biking in -20 degree weather or freezing rain or heavy snow.
posted by Mitheral at 10:34 AM on December 6, 2019 [4 favorites]


Surely this joke has been made already:

"A year ago, I didn't realize how much this would change me. It made me strong enough to get a divorce and start looking for a new husband."
posted by clawsoon at 11:01 AM on December 6, 2019 [2 favorites]


"I currently sit here hoping that I’ll be able to continue auditioning for commercials without any taint"

THE MAN HAS NO TAINT, PEOPLE, THIS IS THE REAL STORY


That would explain why he didn't get a bike for himself.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:43 AM on December 6, 2019 [13 favorites]


welp
posted by juv3nal at 5:50 PM on December 6, 2019 [16 favorites]


juv3nal's link is worth watching. It's a new commercial with the lead actress, for Aviation Gin.
posted by Pronoiac at 10:20 PM on December 6, 2019 [2 favorites]


Something about this smacks of NordicTrack. Fads come and go, especially exercise and diet fads

Though I will say I bought a used NordicTrack for $40 off Craigslist in 2005. It's moved across the country with me twice, it's fairly unobtrusive in my back room, and I do still hop on it once a week or so during the 7 months of winter here. 14 years later, that's a pretty decent return on my investment!

(But perhaps the most impressive thing is that while I don't use it much in nice weather, I've never used it as a clothes-rack, either, thus allowing me some kind of sense of commitment/smugness).
posted by TwoStride at 8:25 AM on December 7, 2019


when you come from a country where prescription medicines are not advertised on TV

QFT. I come from such a country and let me tell you, it’s just plain weird.

Oh, BTW, that country was America before the mid 80’s.
posted by sjswitzer at 10:48 AM on December 7, 2019 [5 favorites]




A comment on Ryan Reynolds' Twitter showing the ad:

Pretty cool that there's a commercial about this lady and her two friends that helped her murder her husband and sink the body to the bottom of a lake, anchored by a $3,000 bike.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:42 PM on December 8, 2019 [4 favorites]


A very belated observation: I realised today that the reason that some things about the ad seemed even worse to me initially (e.g. the woman reacting with excitement to someone saying her name) is that I didn't actually know anything about the features of the bike after watching the ad. The ad doesn't advertise any concrete thing that makes this bike stand out from other bikes or makes it fun to use -- because it isn't an ad targeted at a prospective user of the bike. It's aimed at the person buying the bike for someone else, and clearly it doesn't think that that person needs to know any of that stuff. Which underscores the creepy implied message.
posted by confluency at 1:10 AM on December 11, 2019 [1 favorite]


Ctrl+F "Ruiz" => "Phrase not found."

Monica Ruiz speaks.

With so many comments about her physical appearance in this thread, it seems like it might be worth noting that she has an actual name and voice.
posted by Not A Thing at 5:40 PM on December 12, 2019 [1 favorite]


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