It’s been a crazy couple of weeks for Peloton and its high-end, at-home gym equipment. If you haven’t heard the brand’s name thrown around recently then where have you been?!
As I began to write this piece about what I viewed to be ‘the comeback campaign of the year’ (more on that shortly), further news articles emerged day-by-day, producing what seems to be one of the most talked about brand crises of the entire year.
WARNING: SPOILER ALERT.
With the anticipated return of Sex and the City, viewers were left shocked when much-loved character, Big, was unexpectedly killed off in the very first episode. Much to Peloton’s dismay, claiming unawareness of how the product placement would be used in the episode, headlines announced the death of the fictional character was due to a heart attack after finishing an intense ride on his bike.
Although the show’s directors have agreed the Peloton bike was not a direct factor of the character’s death, and instead due to his unhealthy lifestyle, the company’s shares slumped by more than 16% since the show aired, and ‘Cancel Peloton Subscription’ searches were up by a scary 809%. It’s safe to say the brand needed to do something radical in response and luckily for Peloton, it had a special crisis management plan which came in the form of Ryan Reynolds and his marketing team. And yes, as you could probably guess, his crisis management plans are just as perfect as his face.
A comeback ad was turned around in a mere 48 hours, featuring Chris Noth (Big) and his Peloton instructor chatting on a couch next to a roaring fire – alive and well after another Peloton ride. Reynolds then provides the pièce de résistance, a voiceover explaining why cycling is good for you and more than likely would have helped to delay his inevitable cardiac event – “he’s alive”. And just like that, the world was then reminded of the importance of cardiovascular exercise and the benefits it has on our health.
After being such a success, we do begin to wonder if the death of Big was part of Peloton’s marketing scheme all along. But, even so, they’re not quite out of the thick of it yet.
Just when we thought Peloton had clawed its way back into a positive limelight (and what a lovely article I could have written about the best ad of the year!), news stories dropped surrounding Chris Noth and allegations of sexual assault.
Peloton pulled the ingenious ad straight away as a spokesperson for the brand stated that “every single sexual assault accusation must be taken seriously.”
While it’s true that the public perception of the brand has been soured, Peloton responded to the allegations in an admirable way – showing other businesses the importance of a crisis management strategy and doing your due diligence on anyone that may be used to represent your brand (unfortunately, they learned this part the hard way).
As this is not the first time the brand has weathered a bad PR storm, coming under scrutiny in 2020 with reports of injuries and loss of life as a direct result of the machinery, the team should be expertly placed for any curveballs that may come their way.
I’m not sure about you, but I’m excited to keep a close eye on whether and, if so, how they approach their next whirlwind of publicity, or what comes next in this crazy saga – especially if they continue to work closely with Ryan Reynolds!