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Image / Editorial

This new ad for a Peloton exercise bike is like an episode of Black Mirror


by Erin Lindsay
04th Dec 2019

We watched the new Christmas ad for a Peloton bike and… we have some questions


When I look at my Christmas list this year, it’s full of fun, frivolous things that I would really love, but wouldn’t necessarily buy myself — make-up, books, jewellery, various trinkets. What it certainly does not include is any item that requires me to make any sort of effort to use — I firmly believe that Christmas is a time for sitting, and nothing else.

When I see ads for anything exercise or diet-related at Christmas, my head is of course filled with all the arguments about why it’s problematic (unhealthy focus on weight and how your body looks rather than how it works, disproportionate focus on women, etc.), but mostly, all I can think of is, “who can be arsed?”. Who is actually thinking about exercise and diet when you have every type of snack and movie available to you for a two-week stint per year?

I do envy those who are much more serious about their physical health than I am, but I still don’t believe that Christmas (and the very rare opportunity it affords us to truly relax and do nothing) should be wasted thinking about how to lose the weight you’ve accumulated while having fun. And so, when I saw a particularly weird ad for something exercise-related this week, it made a lasting impression.

Who is Peloton and what is this ad?

Peloton is a company that makes exercise bikes. They specialise in bikes that come with a tablet which screens a live class to you while you’re working out, with a trainer instructing you and a scoreboard.

That’s all the information I knew about Peloton before I watched this ad. Now, I’m fairly sure they also specialise in making terminators. Just watch it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pShKu2icEYw

Let’s unpack this.

“The Gift that Gives Back”. The only gift that this Peloton is giving is a look of distinct fear in that woman’s eyes. Look at her! Does this look like a woman who is happy with her husband’s choices? Absolutely not — I feel like there’s a silver guy (like the ones in I, Robot) threatening her from behind the camera.

First of all, the fact that the one small child in the house is being ignored on Christmas morning for an exercise bike is bad enough, and it’s a sign of things to come here.

It all starts out rather innocently… a quick selfie video for her first session. Grand.

But the fact that her year spent on this bike (which, as we know, is used entirely indoors, giving this woman no access to fresh air, which would help her come to her senses), has been filmed with a weird sense of dread from her, to show it all to her husband at the next Christmas, is pretty unsettling.

Why does she have to document the process? Why did her husband buy her an exercise tool in the first place? How has Peloton ‘changed’ her? Why is the only time she’s excited in the whole process is when the trainer mentions her name? And why does she have an air of absolute terror around her the whole time? Is Peloton in the hostage business?

Thankfully, for my own sanity, I am not the only one that has had such an incredulous reaction to this weird-as-f*ck ad. Such was the negative online reaction to its release, that The Guardian reported Peloton’s share prices have dropped 9% since it first aired in early November.

Maybe they can put that money into some focus groups to explain why women don’t need to be gifted exercise bikes on Christmas Day. Spend the day in your jammies and save the cycling for… well, never really.


Read more: ‘My move towards healthy eating made me reconsider my relationship with alcohol’

Read more: 5 ways to help you fend off festive anxiety this year

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