We’ve all seen the jokes over the years of hapless husbands gifting their wives vacuum cleaners and irons for the holidays and the fights that ensue due to the perception that the wife’s only role is that of housekeeper. We’ve even seen that joke expanded to include husbands who gift their wives exercise equipment with the underlying implication that she needs to lose weight.
Well, it seems the stationary bike manufacturer, Peloton missed this long history of gifts you shouldn’t give when they created and released an ad featuring a rail-thin woman receiving a Peloton stationary bike for Christmas. The ad proceeds to show how the woman gets up in the early morning hours, next to her sleeping husband, to work out on her Peloton and how grateful she is a year later after posting daily evidence of her workouts every day, lest her husband think she is slacking off.
Online outrage over the ad drove down the company’s shares by 9% on Tuesday, wiping out $942 million in value and prompted calls for the stationary-bike maker to pull the commercial.
Critics on social media said the ad was sexist and made it seem like the woman was being pressured to keep her weight in check.
In fact, a parody video mocking the Peloton ad has seen one million more views and shares that the original ad.
Some folks like to say “any publicity is good publicity” but I believe anyone who owns Peloton stock may find that saying to be as ridiculous as PR pros do.
Bottom line – in this era of offense – the worst thing a brand can do is to be tone deaf about the message they are putting out there.