December 06, 2019 5 min read 0 Comments

Was the 2019 Peloton Holiday Commercial Offensive?

Have you seen the new 2019 Peloton holiday commercial everyone is talking about?  In case you’re not familiar, Peloton is the stationary bike company that has basically stuck an ipad onto a stationary bicycle where they live stream classes to you.  It's become somewhat of a phenomenon, and no, I don't own one.

Well, the new Peloton Christmas commercial has sparked quite a debate on social media, and as a result the Peloton stock has lost somewhere between $942 MILLION to $1.5 BILLION dollars in a matter of days when its stock dropped 9% amid the backlash.

In case you haven’t seen the video, watch it below:

Watch The 2019 Peloton Holiday Commercial Here

Assuming it's still available when you read this...

I’m curious, if you haven’t yet heard about this controversy, then without Googling to find out what other people were saying about the Peloton commercial on social media, did you find it offensive?  What did you find offensive about it?

Peloton Commercial Facts

  1. A man surprised a woman with a Peloton stationary bicycle for Christmas. 
  2. The woman appears to be in good shape already. 
  3. She vlogs her progress, and at times appears to be scared or tired. 
  4. She shares her journey with this mean.
  5. She remarks about how it changed her life.

Peloton Commercial Assumptions

Straight from the twitterverse...

A Word About Projection

Are you familiar with a concept knows as confirmation bias?  Confirmation bias basically says people have a tendency to selectively interpret situations, especially emotionally charged ones, with a biased way to support their deeply entrenched beliefs.  In other words, we project our issues.

For example, if a woman is passed over for a promotion in favor of a man, and you happen to be a woman hearing about this story, than depending on your background, upbringing, and algorithimic newsfeed preferences… you might have a tendency to believe the reason she was passed over for the promotion was because it was due to her gender, and not because she wasn't the best fit for the job. 

You can easily substitute a person’s gender here with ethnicity, age, etc. and it’s easy to see why this can be a problem if we’re not careful to check our emotions at the door and look at the facts.

Philosophical Beliefs

Okay, maybe the people who have an issue with this commercial aren't bringing their emotional baggage to the table.  Ahem.  So what else could it be?  Is it possible they hold different philosophical beliefs or certain "relationship rules" which were violated, and found offensive?  For example... 


Belief: Buying an exercise-related product or service for your spouse for Christmas is wrong and insensitive. 

Message: You are unhappy with the way your partner looks.

Counter Point: Your partner is concerned with your health.


Belief: Men shouldn’t purchase exercise-related gifts for women. 

Message: Reinforces the societal beliefs supporting the impossible physical standard for women to appear beautiful – it’s sexist.

Counter Point: Why can’t partners be honest about the concerns with their partner, even if it means they might be seen as unattractive?


I could go down a rabbit hole here, but wanted to bring up a couple of the more obvious examples of how implicit relationship rules could be contributing to why people might be turned off by this commercial.

The News Jumps On The Peloton Backlash Bandwagon

But it's not just random people on twitter with nothing better to do, even the mainstream news is in on it.  From USA Today:

"If you’ve ever seen a Peloton workout bike commercial, they all seem to follow a consistent trend. Every person portrayed in Peloton ads is in great shape, lives in a lavish home and chooses to make the Peloton workout bike the centerpiece of said home."

Admittedly, Clue Heywood does a hilarious job of calling attention to the observation made by USA Today above: Peloton likes to put pretty people on their fancy bikes in nice homes... is that classist?

Devil's Advocate

At $2,200 the Peloton bike doesn't come cheap for most of us.  Think about it, who is buying this bike except for upper-middle class buyers, who probably have nice homes, possibly worked with a designer, and are concerned about how this piece of exercise equipment will affect their home's aesthetic. 

A stationary bike takes up a lot of space.  Peloton needs to showcase their stationary bike as a piece of art, because it has to live somewhere in your home. Seeing as how Pelotons are professionally installed in customer homes, I even have to wonder if word back from the installation team hasn't influenced the marketing department's choice to showcase homes from architectural digest in their ads - they are probably appealing to their target market.

When Did We All Become Such A Bunch Of Wimps?

Get a grip people! If you don't like the ad because you thought the vlog style was cheesy, I respect your point of view. It's not my favorite commercial either, but sexist? C'mon!

I feel sorry for the snowflake who is so easily perturbed.

It's my belief that the people who think this ad is sexist are either themselves sexist, or have an unresolved issue with their current or previous romantic partner. 

There, I said it, let the hate mail fly!

But seriously, I know I'm not the only one who must be thinking, if my grandparents were still alive, how would they view what we perceive to be slights and hardships today?

You may have heard about the recent study of the top 20 most stressful scenarios facing millennials today, which include items like losing a phone, phone charger, having your phone battery die... you get the idea.  My point is not to bash millenials, but to bash how surprisingly sensitive and upset we seem to be over... everything these days

We need to accept responsibility for our own feelings and do the hard work of looking inward to understand why we might feel like an ad such as this is sexist or classist (fill in your -ist) so we can process our unresolved issue and move on.  Because if you look at the facts of this ad, there's nothing sexist about it.  It's all about what you are bringing to its interpretation, like a Rorschach  test

What do you see?