Like any normal American woman who lives off snark and Little Debbie Raisin Cakes, I was completely mystified the first time I saw the now famous Peloton ad.
Why does that pretty lil waif look so worried when her controlling 50 shades of stupid husband gives her an overpriced exercise bike for Christmas?
But first, some background. The $2,400 exercise bike is a Peloton (from the Latin, “pelo” meaning “pretentious and extra” and “ton” meaning “yeah, I’m talking to you.”) The company has been slammed for previous ads that seemed deliberately snobby.
Part of me has a grudging respect for any company that has the stones to unapologetically wallow in its elitism. Every ad shows a super fit lil hank o’ hair peddling her fool head off, sweating like she was working down in the engine room in the Titanic. Except her sweat smells less like beer made in somebody’s boot and more like an intoxicating blend of jasmine and blood diamonds.
They stop just short of ending every commercial with: “Peloton. Because most of y’all are way too POOR to ever own one.”
So, yes, all that is part of the branding and Peloton has a kitschy sort of “brand you love to hate” image that seems to work for them.
There was just something in this hashtag MeToo world that didn’t sit right with viewers of this year’s ad. The waif’s darting, vaguely terrified eyes when she’s presented this “gift” gave me, and others, pause. I haven’t seen that kind of on-screen fear of a creepy husband since Julia Roberts hid out on an island to elude her homicidal other half in “Sleeping With the Enemy.” Terrifying.
Note to marketing team: We know your brand leans in hard when it comes to being hilariously elitist but you’re no worse than Matthew McConaughey sitting in that Lincoln like a damn fool talking to himself and admiring his own cuff links. Problem is, you can’t be that tone-deaf these days. Poor Peloton waif looks terrified she won’t live up to HIS fitness goals for her. At the end, she shows him how far she’s come via videos that proclaim her fitness levels as, like, really high. (Unlike my own, which translate as “more blue cheese dressing than blood in her veins.”)
Even the most fitness-obsessed rich person would probably resent getting the modern-day equivalent of a vacuum cleaner for Christmas. It’s just so utilitarian.
Here’s a pop quiz for loyal readers: If Duh Hubby unveils a “reconditioned” treadmill from Ollie’s (we aren’t at Peloton levels, duh) or any sort of workout equipment for me Christmas morning, I will be (A) outwardly plucky and polite but secretly disappointed and a little hurt, (B) honestly touched that he cares so much about my cardiovascular health and obviously wants to keep me around a long time, or (C) outside in the driveway tampering with his brakes and figuring I can finally eat ALL the sticky buns.
Sometimes it scares me a little how well y’all know me.
Celia Rivenbark is a New York Times-bestselling author and columnist. Visit www.celiarivenbark.com.