Justice for Peloton?
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more anticipated show this winter than And Just Like That . . . It’s been more than a decade since our last check-in with the ladies of HBO’s Sex and the City and, despite the absence of fan-favorite Samantha, hype has been high.
The first two episodes dropped Thursday night and fans were hit with a huge shocker. I was expecting a fun, nostalgic romp with Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda & Co. I was not expecting to watch a brand PR crisis unfold!
**IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED THE EPISODE, STOP READING. SPOILERS FOLLOW! YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!**
Carrie’s husband, Mr. Big, dies of a heart attack after finishing a workout on his beloved – gasp! – Peloton bike.
That’s right. Arguably one of the biggest brands on the planet – and one whose products likely sit in the homes of many SATC watchers – killed Big.
Well, as you can imagine, Peloton PR had quite the Friday morning.
If you are anything like me, you probably sat there, mouth agape, wondering why in the world Peloton would agree to a product placement like that. They answered that question first by sharing that they were not aware of the storyline, only that a Peloton bike would be used in the episode and Peloton’s Jess King would be featured as a fictional instructor. They also shared a statement from Peloton cardiologist Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum that blamed Mr. Big’s poor habits, not his Peloton, for his demise:
“Mr. Big lived what many would call an extravagant lifestyle – including cocktails, cigars, and big steaks – and was at serious risk as he had a previous cardiac event in season 6. . . . These lifestyle choices and perhaps even his family history, which often is a significant factor, were the likely cause of his death. Riding his Peloton bike may have even helped delay his cardiac event.”
So, where does Peloton go from here? It’s hard to say.
Crock-Pot experienced a similar crisis in 2018 when the popular slow cooker sparked a house fire that “killed” Jack Pearson on NBC’s This Is Us. Instead of going with their original knee-jerk reaction to take legal action against the network, Crock-Pot launched the #CrockPotIsInnocent campaign on social media and actually boosted sales as a result.
Peloton is no stranger to image issues. For those keeping score at home, that’s two of the last three holiday seasons that Peloton has had a PR crisis on their hands (remember the strange holiday ad?). Plus, following an involuntary recall of their treadmill earlier this year, the company is starting to see financial ramifications.
And it’s this recall that makes a lighthearted response tricky. A #JusticeForPeloton campaign might have been successful in a world where the brand’s treadmill wasn’t linked to real-life death and injuries.
Right now, Peloton’s move of carefully covering its heart-health bases is the right first step, and elevating Dr. Steinbaum is a great move to tout the benefits of cardio. It will also be important to kick social listening into high gear over the next 24 hours to get a sense of what current users are saying and pivot responses accordingly.
Want to talk more about And Just Like That . . . and Peloton? Need some brand image help? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.