I have been pondering Peloton Interactive’s quick thinking Hail Mary.
It’s rare for a major brand and public company to react to a communications issue with genuine dynamism, creativity and bravery, but huge credit to Peloton for their rapid response this week to what could potentially have been a reputational crisis.
*’…And Just Like That’ SPOILERS*
The high-end home bike brand featured in the first episode of the much-maligned Sex and the City reboot, prominently and unflatteringly adjacent to Mr. Big’s untimely demise from a heart attack.
Things already weren’t looking great for Peloton; according to the Telegraph, the darling of upmarket lockdown lifestyle had undergone a 73% slump from its peak since the world reopened.
Some nice product placement in a high-profile television series infamous for its constant celebration (‘aspirational’ or ‘vulgar’ depending on your world view) of wealth, luxury, and privilege must have been welcomed until Peloton’s share price took another 10% hit when the episode aired.
But Peloton snatched victory from the jaws of defeat by enlisting a miraculously revived Mr. Big for the lightning release of a response advert that convincingly aped the tone of Sex and the City (with the help of a Ryan Reynolds voiceover) and thoroughly (but not churlishly) debunked any inference that cycling might be the cause of health problems.
The tone, content and sideways humour of the advert, as well as its incredible timeliness, has rightly gained it positive headlines around the world.
There’s also a lot to be admired in the agility of the response; other corporate giants have seen such opportunities for revolutionary publicity scuppered by defensive strategies in which lawyers take the lead, and creativity and entrepreneurship are sidelined.
Instead, Peloton filled any potential vacuum with positivity. The company mobilised their army of instructors-turned-influencers – chiefly Jess King, the real-life instructor who featured in the advert after playing the role of Big’s trainer Allegra in the reboot. This strategy was a key factor in Peloton’s initial success and a strategy that has been co-opted by Comms operations worldwide.
The earned media added rocket thrusters to the paid and influencer content – as it does with any truly great stunt-advert, and gave Peloton a much-needed pre-Christmas boost. Just like a Peloton session, it used cadence and resistance for best results.