A Peloton is an exercise bicycle with an online component. I am hazy on the details, but there is a screen where you can connect with instructors or participate in a group ride. Peloton recently released a Christmas-themed commercial in which a husband buys his beautiful young wife a Peloton for Christmas. She is overjoyed, and a year later they watch video documenting how the Peloton has improved their lives. Here is the ad, which has become famous or infamous, take your pick:
The ad generated an enormous social media controversy, with many denouncing it as sexist. Personally, I see nothing wrong with it. I had a conversation not long ago with a woman of my acquaintance (but who? I can’t remember) who extolled the virtues of the Peloton at least as effusively as they are portrayed in the ad. But on balance, social media commentary has been negative, as reflected in the thumps up/thumbs down ratio on YouTube, where the ad has nearly seven million views: 14,000 likes, 19,000 dislikes.
A gin distiller named Ryan Reynolds then produced an ad that featured the same actress, out for drinks with two girl friends. The ad is pretty funny; here it is:
It is unclear to me whether the woman in the gin ad is supposed to be the woman in the Peloton ad, having divorced her husband, or, rather, the actress in the Peloton ad who seeks solace because of widespread criticism of the ad. Either way, the ad is popular, with more than three million views on YouTube and 59,000 likes, against only 2,700 dislikes.
This is, I think, a remarkable phenomenon. The gin ad is based on the assumptions that 1) pretty much everyone has seen the Peloton ad, 2) pretty much everyone is aware of the controversy surrounding that ad, with most likely being critical of it, and 3) most people will recognize the actress and make the connection. (The actress’s name is Monica Ruiz, by the way. This is no doubt a huge career break for her.)
Not being a television watcher, I would not have gotten any of the above except that I kept seeing references to the Peloton ad in my ceaseless web surfing. It is an interesting example of how social media can drive an extraordinary amount of awareness, outside of traditional modes of communication and mostly for free.
I am glad I investigated the Peloton controversy, because it explained one of the jokes in yesterday’s Week In Pictures that I didn’t understand (apart from the Joe Biden reference, of course):
Now if only someone would explain the four musicians of the apocalypse….