'Am I a sexist pig?': Digital marketer on buying Peloton for his wife

Experts say critics are taking Peloton-bashing too far.

One digital marketing expert actually did gift a Peloton to his wife last year — and lived to tell the tale.

Reflecting on the backlash Peloton has received following its A Gift Like No Other ad, which features a young mom getting the exercise bike as a Christmas gift from her husband, Drew Schulthess, strategy director and owner of CatchFire Creative, explained in a LinkedIn post why he believes it is unwarranted.

Schulthess noted that he bought a Peloton stationary bike for his wife after she expressed an interest in working out at home.

"Does this make me a sexist pig?" he wrote. "She was certainly thrilled about it, and more than happy with my decision. For all we know the lady in the ad had put the bug in her husband’s ear."

He added that if people start judging ads by always assuming the worst context then a lot of them would suddenly be more offensive.

Many on social media view the content as sexist because of how she appears to look at her husband for approval. Other critics on social don’t believe she sees the bike as a gift, but rather as another way for her possessive husband to exert further control over her. Peloton’s ad spawned a number of parodies this week, reimagining the spot as a horror movie by focusing on the husband as a control freak forcing his wife to exercise.  

Backlash against the ad was so extreme that some claim it was responsible for Peloton’s stock falling 9.1% on Tuesday. However, it rebounded on Wednesday.

Lisa Glover, senior director of PR at Cashman & Associates, said she sees the marketing strategy behind the ad as motivational. The commercial realistically portrays the work-life balance many women and men work toward every day and how a Peloton bike can help them achieve that, Glover wrote in a LinkedIn post.

"Peloton is extremely on-trend with the $4.2 trillion wellness industry," she added.

Ernie Schenck, chief creative officer and branded story consultant for Ernie Schenck Creative, wrote on LinkedIn that he can’t understand where the venom is coming from over what he refers to as "this nothing of a spot."

He explained that the "withering blows" the ad has been receiving mostly seem to be focused on people complaining about why the thin actress in the commercial would need to exercise.

"Can you say ‘thin shaming’?" he wrote. "What is it about our collective psyche that get us to respond this way? Envy? Guilt?"

Brianne Fleming, founder and chief elevation officer of Twelve Stories Up, penned a blog post stating that people judged the ad too quickly.

"While this Peloton ad stirred up some not-so-positive emotions, here are some others I found illustrated in the commercial: surprise, joy, excitement, anticipation, enthusiasm, empowerment, hope, pride and love," she wrote.

Shelley Zalis, CEO of The Female Quotient, added on LinkedIn that while Peloton could have improved how the woman was portrayed, at its heart the ad was just about being healthy.

"We shouldn't go overboard with micro sensitivity in just assuming because a man gives a woman an exercise bike, that insinuates it’s to lose weight," she wrote.

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