Last month, Peloton, the high-end exercise-equipment company beloved by wealthy suburban moms and Ivanka Trump alike, released a 30-second holiday video ad, and people seem to really, really hate it. In the video, titled “The Gift That Gives Back,” a man gifts his wife one of the company’s stationary bikes (which, for the record, retails for $2,245). Then, the ad starts to take a bizarre turn. “All right, first ride. I’m a little nervous, but excited,” the woman — who looks disconcertingly pained and scared — says to the camera, which she uses to document her daily rides. And then she furiously spins. And spins some more. And at the end of the ad, the couple curls up on their couch to watch the videos the woman has taken of her new exercise regimen, which they have inexplicably decided to stream on their TV.
“I didn’t realize how much this would change me,” she says in the video. “Thank you.”
After the ad’s release, the Times notes, a few comedians and social-media users made fun of it, as the woman’s devotion to her Peloton appears to be making her miserable. This past week, the ad went viral, eliciting a deluge of mockery and criticism.
Some people condemned the ad as “sexist,” suggesting that the video implied that the husband wanted his wife to lose weight. Others compared it to the dystopian Netflix show Black Mirror. Quite a few expressed sympathy for the woman, who came to be known as “Peloton Wife.” “It’s clear this woman doesn’t need a Peloton. She needs a good therapist and a divorce lawyer,” one journalist wrote in one of the many, many articles about the ad. Some comedians even spoofed it.
On Thursday, the “Peloton Husband” himself discussed the ad in an article published on Psychology Today. Speaking about the backlash directed at the man in the ad — “Absolutely 100% chance that the husband in the Peloton ad is abusive,” one person tweeted — actor and elementary-school teacher Sean Hunter said, “My 5 seconds of air time created an array of malicious feedback that is all associated with my face. My friend texted me today declaring that I’m ‘a symbol of the patriarchy.’” (He doesn’t seem too eager to put this episode behind him, though: He has claimed the Instagram handle @PelotonHusband.)
It appears that the negative reaction to the ad has also had financial repercussions for Peloton. Business Insider reports that this week, Peloton’s stock plunged 15 percent in three days, which represents about a $1.5 billion loss in the company’s market value.
Peloton has insisted that the stock drop wasn’t related to the ad, which it is still standing behind. “Our holiday spot was created to celebrate that fitness and wellness journey,” a company representative said in a statement to the Times. “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 just want to know: Are advertising teams okay?
This post has been updated.