I am weirdly obsessed with exactly how that Big Peloton advert came together and where exactly Ryan Reynolds factors into it all.
By now, unless you’ve been living under a rock/on an internet detox for four days, you’ll know that a Big character died at the end of the first episode of the new Sex and the City reboot, And Just Like That.
Yes, John, aka Mr Big, suffered from a heart attack while exercising on his Peloton bike and Carrie refused to call him an ambulance… I haven’t actually watched the episode but this much I have gathered from the memes.
And, naturally enough, Peloton’s stock, well, it kinda plummeted after the show aired. It fell by 11.3%, a 19-month low. Which, considering it’s a very expensive exercise bike and fitness program that they’re trying to get people to buy in order to get healthy and not because it might kill them, is understandable.
But then, cue this morning and our feeds are flooded with Mr Big once again, this time curling up by the fire with a new leading lady (Update: she’s Peloton instructor Jessica King), discussing taking “another ride”, as the camera pans out to two Peloton bikes behind them. Suddenly, Ryan Reynolds voice chimes in, citing the health and specifically heart benefits of Peloton’s workouts and closing with “he’s alive”.
So wait, did Peloton know one of the most hotly anticipated shows of the year and undoubtedly watched by a huge portion of their demographic (white women in their 30s and 40s) was going to kill a major character on one of its bikes? Because pulling all of this together after Thursday night would be a huge undertaking.
To pitch, hire, stage, script, shoot, edit, cut and get an ad like that approved by a major corporation in just four days, is, well, bonkers. And to bag Chris Noth and Ryan Reynolds (??) in that time is unrealistic to say the least. I can’t even get my mother to tell me what I should buy her for Christmas and I’ve been harping on about that for weeks now.
Peloton and virality
And as a friend pointed out, Peloton wouldn’t exactly be keen to take such a Big risk (I’m sorry but I can’t stop doing that) as allowing a character die on its bike in exchange for a potentially viral video.
If anything you’d think the company would still be rather cautious.
Remember that 19-month low in stock prices I mentioned? Well, that previous drop was caused by another ad that went viral… and not in a good way. In December 2019, Peloton launched their Christmas advert of an already-thin woman receiving a bike from her husband for Christmas, and in return, she gifts him… an even hotter body? The video was slammed as sexist and incredibly backwards and the company took a major financial hit, wiping $1.5 billion off the company’s valuation. Luckily for Peloton, the pandemic set in a few months later, which was basically a breeding ground for Peloton obsessions and the company bounced back.
But still, it seems unlikely they’d be willing to take such a leap again, especially considering how badly burnt they were the last time around. And where exactly does Ryan Reynolds factor into this?
Well, he might be the fulcrum that links it all. Because the advert is very much in the Ryan Reynolds’ realm of humour – incredibly dry, sometimes dark. It was made by his advertising company, Maximum Effort, who do all of his other adverts for Aviation Gin and that phone company he owns, all in that very Deadpool–esque jocularity.
This also isn’t his first run-in with Peloton. In 2019, he cast the actress, Monica Ruiz, who starred in the disastrous Peloton ad, in his Aviation Gin ad and released it just a few days later. Starring as more or less as herself, Ruiz is filmed getting a drink with friends after getting the career break she had not expected.
However, there doesn’t appear to be any hard feelings, as Reynolds pulled together this new ad at “lighting speed” and clearly got Peloton approval (it’s on its official social channels). On Instagram, the star thanked everyone for the ad, including Chris Noth for “diving into this blind”. It does seem more plausible that Reynolds had the star power, contacts and cash to pull Peloton, Chris Noth and a production company together to make it happen over the weekend. Peloton was probably hoping to get on the right side of virality this time around, and why not leave it to the professionals.
I mean, that is impressive. Sometimes you just have to marvel at Hollywood’s ability to get viral pop culture over the line in a few days but can’t seem to figure out how to solve the industry’s century-old diversity issue (hint: hire more non-white people in front of and behind the camera).
I guess that’s capitalism, I mean show business. people!