Fitness equipment maker Peloton’s shares have gone down by 16% since the show’s first airing on 9th December.
If you haven’t already heard, the Sex and the City reboot, entitled ‘And Just Like That’ saw the death of Mr.Big – an iconic character who plays Carrie Bradshaw’s (Sarah Jessica Parker) husband – via heart attack after using his Peloton for exersize.
While Peloton of course agreed to appear in the show and approved of the bike’s feature, it was not told that Mr Big, played by actor Chris Noth, would die after the workout.
A number of commenters have claimed that Peloton has lost control of its brand narrative by appearing unaware of how its product would be placed in the HBO episode. But to Metaforce managing partner and NYU Stern adjunct professor Allen Adamson, actual harm to the company appears overstated. In fact, he sees only upside in this case for Peloton and suggests the feature may even be good press.
“This falls under ‘all publicity is good,” Adamson said. “Part of Peloton’s appeal is that it’s a social status symbol. Saying you’re on a Peloton is the equivalent of going to a hot club. So being on the first episode of a highly anticipated show is a positive. It shows the brand is trending.”
Peloton has appeared defensive. But even in this case, it seems to be taking the situation lightly. Its response is arguably intelligent as well as humorous, having released an advert today (a four-day turnaround, that was quick)it released a parody advert, in which Mr Big was brought back to life – with the caption: “And just like that… he’s alive”.
The advert features the real Mr.Big himself – played by Chris North – and is voiced by Ryan Reynolds as Reynolds reminds us of all the cardiovascular benefits cycling has on the heart and body in general. Mr.Big is found in a festively decorated home on the couch with real-life Peloton instructor Jess King – who also starred in the HBO episode as Peloton instructor Allegra – talking about how fit and romantic they feel.
“I can understand the legal team feeling anxious about associating death with a Peloton product,” Adamson said. “But marketers shouldn’t think like lawyers. They can capitalize and ride the attention successfully if they embrace being part of a much-watched and talked-about show. Still, I find it hard to believe Peloton wasn’t aware of Mr. Big’s death.
“In any case, it wasn’t like Mr. Big got sucked into the machine and died that way. So Peloton can easily claim it wasn’t culpable in his death.”
However, this is not the first time that one of Peloton’s adverts has been in the news.
In 2019, the company’s shares slumped after a backlash over its Christmas advert, which showed a woman being given an exercise bike for Christmas by her partner.
She then records her workouts over the following year in a vlog and presents it to him as a way of saying thank you.
“A year ago, I didn’t realise how much this would change me,” she says. Critics of the 30-second promo said it was “sexist” and “dystopian”.