For those that aren’t familiar with Peloton’s 2019 holiday ad, the ad features a woman being gifted Pelton’s stationary bike. Each day she films her herself, video blogging her journey along the way. It’s then revealed that these seconds-long vignettes are actually spliced together into one “thank you” video to the woman’s partner (who gifted her the bike). At the end, we find out they are watching the entire video — seemingly encompassing a year of her daily, self-narrated spin classes — together at Christmastime, one year later. The ad received much backlash on social media and even caused the company’s stock to drop by 10%. Some of the backlash included comments about the ad being sexist since a woman was receiving the bike, the fact that the woman already seemed to be in shape – making it unbelievable she would be “nervous” as she stated in the ad. Adding to her already seeming shape, many made the partner in the video out to be a villian, thinking the underlying purpose of giving the gift was that he wanted her to lost weight. This reaction was obviously not Peloton’s intent and what they set out to do when they launched the ad. Their response was that they were surprised by the reactions on social media and that the ad was misinterpreted (probably by someone who wasn’t intended to receive it). In regards to the 2019 holiday spot, I think the brand’s response after backlash was appropriate, but Peloton should have had several eyes reviewing ads internally and externally to make sure they were really driving the intended messaging home. For example, they may consider a test audience to screen ads in the future. Like we talked about in our Social Media Innovation class, intent is important and sometimes businesses miss the mark. So as marketers, we must ask ourselves what could have been done differently?
According to this Hootsuite article, social media monitoring and social listening go hand in hand. Social media monitoring includes looking at metrics from brand mentions, relevant hashtags, competitor mentions and industry trends while the latter includes tracking social media platforms for mentions and conversations related to your brand. Social media monitoring looks at metrics like engagement rate and number of mentions, social listening looks beyond the numbers to consider the mood behind the data. Both of these are crucial to a brand’s success since most people spend some part of their day online. There are also many places online that serve as a great place for groups of people to chat about any given topic whether you are a gamer, athlete, foodie etc. Some brands have even implemented their own forums or similar online community for their users to engage. Before the digital age – conversations, complaints, and recommendations would all be exchanged face to face and it would be hard for a brand to really know what a consumer was thinking without them participating in a survey or study. Now, brands have all that data at their fingertips, they just need to know how to use it. I think since 2019, Peloton has been doing some social listening of their own and used their findings to launch their current “Game-changing Cardio” ad campaign.
Moving forward to 2021, it seems that Peloton has been addressing some of the pain points associated with their brand/product. Their latest ad from earlier this year is a contrast from their 2019 holiday ad and seems to be very inclusive of all demographics including age and sex, even promoting their new users with the hashtag #PelotonNewbies. In another ad featuring a man riding and another watering plants, they use the hashtag #PlantDad. I think their recent ads are a more inclusive approach than their previous 2019 spot because it showcases a multitude of families all living in the same apartment, but using Peloton differently. They also lowered their bike by $400, making the bike the most affordable it’s ever been. Both their advertising and lower price point are a smart move because it broadens their reach and allows more people to use it who might have been reluctant to in the past. Using the hashtags in the commercials also allows for more activity on social and increases engagement with users. Creating hashtags also makes the content more searchable and trackable which will be good for metrics. Going back to the Hootsuite article, it seems their implementation of hashtags might be a way for them to create an active listening strategy for the brand. If they continue listening to their consumers as well as competitors, I think Peloton will have no issue maintaining a great brand and not repeating the 2019 holiday ad controversy.
“Peloton | Nothing Like Working Out From Home.” Youtube, 8 June 2021, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUgFVJtyXvs. Accessed 7 Oct. 2021.
“What Is Social Listening, Why It Matters, and 10 Tools to Make It Easier.” Social Media Marketing & Management Dashboard, 9 Apr. 2021, https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-listening-business/.
Wong-Shing, Kim. “You Can Now Buy a Peloton Bike for Less Money than Ever.” CNET, CNET, 26 Aug. 2021, https://www.cnet.com/health/fitness/peloton-announces-400-price-drop-on-the-original-peloton-bike/.