Weekly Roundup: White Mirror And The Bad, Bad Deal Edition

Well, as they say, that escalated quickly: Two weeks ago, Peloton, a company which makes stationary exercise bicycles for the terminally soulless and self-involved, debuted a Christmas-centric advertisement called “The Gift That Gives Back” in which a 30-year-old man buys a Peloton for his 22-year-old wife (who has a 9-year-old child already). She is initially terrified by the exercise bike, which seems odd because she is already at the peak of physical perfection, even after becoming a mom. However, she submits to the gift without complaint and uses her iPhone to capture a daily “vlog” detailing her efforts. At one point, she squeals with joy because a Peloton instructor speaks her name. A year later, she explains to her husband how much she has been changed, for the better, by the Peloton… and scene.

This was the rare commercial which offends everyone, even the secular puritans at Vice:

She would rather be anywhere else in the world than here, in her glacial home with the husband she loathes, putting on this sick pantomime of wellness and marital bliss; she’d even rather be back on the dreaded Peloton… Her grim motivation that pushes her to drag herself out of bed combined with exclaiming at the camera how blatantly, inexplicably nervous the Peloton makes her paint a bleak portrait of a woman in the thrall of a machine designed to erode her spirit as it sculpts her quads.

Others drew sinister parallels to an episode of Black Mirror where an entire society is forced to pedal exercise bikes in order to keep the power turned on and where there is no escape from the video screens on all sides. The actor/businessman Ryan Reynolds hired the “Peloton wife” to star in a quickie ad for his “Aviator Gin” where the woman downs three martini glasses’ worth of alcohol in an attempt to forget her year of cyclo-suffering. Peloton’s stock took a $1.5 Billion-with-a-B hit in the wake of the commerical’s release — but to be fair, that dip did not erase the 48% lift the stock saw during October and November as the market breathlessly anticipated the purchase of who-knows-how-many $2,245 exercise bikes.

Much of the criticism leveled at the ad was of the OMG Y U SO SEXIST nature, but I’d like to suggest that there’s nothing sexist about it — or at least, there’s nothing misogynist about it. This isn’t a straightforward advertisement. It’s not even an aspirational advertisement. Rather, it is fantastical, and that makes a big difference.


I’ll go through this shot by shot, although not to the same level of detail I used with the Audi Super Bowl piece from a few years ago.

The opening is tricky, isn’t it? We don’t actually see the husband’s face — and it’s a husband, these people are from the only socioeconomic class that still gets married — until later. He’s a shadow, an all-dark-clad creature in this all-white space where the wife and daughter are identical and the decor is color-matched to the snow outside. That’s how you know that this is the wife’s fantasy, not the husband’s; because she is made-up and razor-sharp while the man of the house is fuzzy-edited down to an anonymous provider of gifts. She never even looks at him, nor does she address him directly.

“Give it up,” the on-screen instructor chirps, “for our first-time riders!” Now we are certain that this is a female fantasy, because the woman is doubly observed, both by the instructor on the screen and by the phone, which is recording a video for her family to watch later. It’s worth noting that in a male fantasy about a woman on a Peloton, she would already be grunting and sweating — and in a man’s fantasy about his own improvement on a bicycle, we would see him working without affirmation, as in the infamous (and hugely evocative) Rocky IV Training Montage.

We need this shot to drive home that our heroine is, in fact, part of the upper middle class; this is how she comes home from work, as opposed to wearing her Subway T-shirt. Also, notice that she doesn’t have her child in tow. She has domestic help. You didn’t notice this, but the women watching the advertisement did.

“SHE JUST SAID MY NAME!” the wife chirps. Her name, by the way, is “Grace from Boston”. You didn’t hear it, but the women did. This isn’t a Tammy or Tawnya or Tina. She is a Grace, from Boston. She’s always been part of the right crowd. If you’re counting, we are now up to at least five social-status markers. And the husband has reappeared…

This is the scene which upset Woke Twitter, because you have this very rugged, very handsome man here who is examining the video with approval as the wife fidgets. But you have to look at what they are wearing. She is in the mandatory high-buck, Chinese-made-but-American-branded “athleisure” worn by her class; the husband, by contrast, is dressed like a cosplay lumberjack. She is socially and economically superior to him, a point reinforced without subtlety by the volume swell given to our soundtrack, which is the noted cuck-anthem She’s So High:

She’s so high
High above me
First class and fancy free
She’s high society
She’s got the best of everything
What could a guy like me
Ever really offer

How most of the cultural commentators completely missed all of the above in an effort to paint the husband as a controlling, sexist monster, I’m not sure — but you can rest assured that their subconscious got the message, even if their forebrains are clouded with too much soy-derived estrogen and Netflix. As the wife gives her little speech about how much the Peloton has changed (read: improved) her (read: her body), we get the absolute last snare-drum crash of narcissism, just to make sure you understand that this is her world and everyone else is merely living in it:

That’s right! Her daughter is right there to play the role of observer. Not to get all TLP on you, but it is characteristic of the modern era in media that children have gone from the object of attention to the providers of it. Did you notice, in retrospect, that the biggest part of Christmas morning for this family, the very first thing that had to happen, was for the wife to get her exercise bike? When did the daughter get her presents? After Mom got the full demo and a spin on the thing? Or had anyone remembered the child at all? Thank God the maid remembered to feed the girl, otherwise we’d have been short one observer for a Peloton session.

So if you want to understand the Peloton ad, you need to look at the above image nice and long and hard. The woman is triply observed: by her handsome low-class husband who presumably tended bar or offered personal-trainer services near Vassar or Bryn Mawr before being elevated into the aristocracy by Miss Peloton on the strength of his chin, his chest, and his cock; by the hired help who cheer Miss Peloton on in her ever-more-fascinating journey into her own impeccably-fit navel; and by the child-as-accessory who did not receive an exercise bike and who needs to stay inside during playtime so Mom has a holy-trinity audience for her daily spin.

This is the scene from which most of the secular-church criticism sprang, and by itself it comes across as submissive-wife-yearns-to-please-husband. Note, however, that the man’s smile is genuine and unforced. He is thrilled to see his wife’s journey — and just as importantly, he is looking at the screen to receive her message, not into her eyes to establish dominance or hierarchy. And the only person who “smiles on command” in this advertisement is the husband; he is impassive-looking until she turns to him to make sure her video registers. This is her world. And it really is her world, as the final shot reminds us yet again:

Remember that the video chronicles a precise year, so this is Christmas of the following year. Take a look at the scene. What do you notice?

Did you see it? The girl hasn’t been allowed to unwrap her gifts yet. (The child in me also notes, with sorrow, that the gifts are wrapped in BEIGE PAPER, because we can’t let a child’s enjoyment override our home design.) She’s seated over at the tree, ready to finally have a Christmas of her own — but before we can do that, Mommy has to show us the video. Also, Mom isn’t in pajamas this year. She’s dressed, which means that we’ve already had her Christmas morning. The order of events, considered plausibly:

8AM — Mom wakes up and gets this year’s gifts for her
9AM — A little gluten-free breakfast courtesy of Consuela, the nanny/maid/housekeeper
10AM — Mom gets dressed and we all assemble in the living room to watch Mommy’s video, which if I know the fairer sex even a little bit probably had a few seconds from all 300 or so days she used the bike, for a total of 1800 seconds, or 30 minutes, which is also known as “half an hour”
10:45AM — Now the girl can open her gifts.

If you want a sense of just how far our intra-cultural stories have drifted, go watch this scene from 1983’s A Christmas Story where the father opens his bowling ball long after the kids are already playing with their toys. Back then, the holiday was for children; now it is for people stuck in the perpetual childhood of narcissism and borderline personality disorder.

Taken as a whole, this isn’t an episode of Black Mirror at all. Call it White Mirror, a world where everything bends, Inception-style, around the wealthy white woman who runs the show while commanding the lion’s share of attention and affection. And make no mistake, the advertisement was created, at mind-numbing cost and effort, to project precisely that image. It’s done well. It succeeds. So why are so many people so critical of it?

The obvious answer is that the wife makes sad faces on her Peloton — but that, too, is part of the message. Our secular church believes that il faut souffrir pour être belle, the same way that the old churches believed you should pray from your knees or scourge yourself in the public square. The wife must suffer to be perfect for the same reason that modern CEOs like to dispense advice regarding getting to bed early and whatnot — because it makes a virtue out of luck, because it means that you worked harder than the next guy in order to be successful. The old aristocracy prided themselves on doing nothing for their money, because it demonstrated the superiority of their birth. Our current aristocracy poses as a meritocracy, which means you must demonstrate merit of some type. She’s unhappy on the Peloton because that’s how you know she deserves her home, her clothes, and her accessory-family.

Most of this stuff is, in fact, hitting all of us in the subconscious, which is from whence our uneasiness with the ad springs. So the answer has to be a bit more subtle, and I think it is this: At some level, all of us understand that this new and ultra-woke vision of Western society is fundamentally broken. We cannot long exist as a place where everybody obsesses about their eternally and unnaturally youthful appearance while effortlessly earning Sun King wages from working in an office ten thousand miles away from the factory. This center cannot hold. And we can see the cracks already, everywhere we look. What will happen to the daughter in this ad? Will she go to Vassar and snag a bartender of her own? Will she force everyone to watch her, as she was forced to watch her mother? Or will she dye her hair blue, declare a fluid gender, gain fifty pounds, put on a black bandanna, and join Antifa?

Let’s stipulate for argument’s sake that the social construct known as “the patriarchy” was a bad idea, and that a change was, in fact, truly required in order for humanity to move forward. I’m not so certain about that, but I’m forty-eight years old and I’ve read too much Marcus Aurelius to ever truly absorb modern wokeness with an open heart. All I see is history repeating itself, over and over again. But I’m past the age where my vote matters much. Assume that we needed to make a change, that the extended families needed to be atomized, that the state needed more power, that the bonds of mother and child needed to be subordinated to the corporation, that men need to be humiliated and demoted to second-class status in the universities and the workplace. Let’s assume that all of this needed to happen. What’s going to happen next? ‘Cause I don’t think we are going to get to the next Prigoginic leap under our current cultural and societal guidelines.

Perhaps that’s why the Peloton ad is so fundamentally disturbing. It depicts a society where the superficial is paramount, where children are meaningless, and where narcissism is the state religion. In that society, we all think we are getting somewhere. We all think we are changing. We’re all becoming better versions of ourselves — except we aren’t. We’ve made a bad, bad deal. We trashed a society that produced results and got nothing in exchange. So we lie. We tell ourselves that we are taking a journey, when all we are really doing is riding a $2,245 bicycle, every single day, to nowhere.

* * *

For Hagerty, I wrote about a truly unusual auction lot and a perfectly normal crossover.

68 Replies to “Weekly Roundup: White Mirror And The Bad, Bad Deal Edition”

  1. AvatarTim

    Articles like this are just one of the reasons I keep coming back to see the latest content. Thanks Jack.

    PS – With any luck you might get a Peloton under your tree this year – hopefully you can avoid injuring yourself (again) on this type of bike!

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      I’m expecting a Leatt 5.5 neck brace under the tree so I can go for broke, as opposed to woke, at Trestle Bike Park in 2020!

      Reply
  2. AvatarShocktastic

    I’m not a particularly woke male but that ad made my skin crawl, too. For 2000 grand my wife and I snagged a pro-grade treadmill, a concept2 rowing machine, ROKU stick, and a big flatscreen TV (Thanks Craigslist!). But spending over 2 grand for an exercise bike with an iPad attached? And the stock trades in the B-B-Billions? Wow. I wish I mastered the greater fool market theory a long time ago. With today’s trends and social norms, a more effective social media campaign would be about a woman who buys a Peloton for herself to spark her personal transformation without old soy boy.

    Reply
  3. AvatarE. Bryant

    I wanna know who the hell gets intimidated by an exercise bike with manual resistance adjustment. Certainly not the sort of alpha female that succeeds in a corporate environment.

    Now, a “smart” trainer set to ergo mode – that’s legitimate nightmare fuel.

    Reply
    • Avatarsaboten.fighter

      Yeah, the Peloton bike is all the tech of the 1970s Schwinn hand-me-down stationary bike my aunt had when I was a kid, but with an ipad attached to it. Thing is a joke from a bike person’s standpoint. Better off getting the mid-tier Zwift compatible trainer and a halfway OK bike.

      Reply
  4. AvatarJohn Van Stry

    This is the first I’ve heard of this ad (obviously I’m no longer a big follower of current culture) but I have to admit that your analysis is spot on. I grew up in the 60’s/70’s and I’ve watched the decline and commented on it more than once. Of course people just laughed at me and said I was imagining things. Pointing out historical precedents of course never sets well with those people.

    And now of course they all look around and wonder just how we got here. Me? I’m too old to care all that much anymore. I’m just going to sit here an eat popcorn during the coming and inevitable collapse. Because we’ve gotten to the point, as a society, where we are actively attacking and destroying those few people who are trying to fix the problem. Not the problem can be fixed any more, we’ve gone to far off the rails. The only thing that can be done now is to try and soften the fall to make it easier for those who come after us and have to pick up the pieces.

    Reply
  5. AvatarLynnG

    Jack,

    “I got my 2019 Outlander Sport from Enterprise Rent-A-Car at the Miami airport. It had 30,009 miles showing on the clock, which caused my younger brother, Mark, to launch into a soliloquy about how my relative poverty and lack of travel-program status had led, inevitably, to a life where I would do nothing but sit in the middle seat of Southwest 737s and humbly accept rental cars with Pioneer 10 odometer readings. Mark is Diamond this, and Platinum that, and Lifetime Elite something else.”

    Now come on Jack, I have seen pictures of you in a 308 in an on street parking spot in Manhattan (doing your best to be as natural as Thomas Magnum), a GT500 Shelby, and other assorted outer worldly cars and I am sure you would get a Tie-Fighter if they were not all, already reserved. You say Bart gets the high life. Now think back to your trip to all those exotic locations in Asia you wrote about just a few months ago. Let’s land that land that star ship and get back to reality. From what Bart has written he is a sales manager commuting from the foot hills of Appalachia and doing his best to be a soccer dad. And did you not just say, you were in London visiting your tailor, your tailor……. Truly a positive defense mechanism on Jacks part…. But little brother makes for an easy foil, right!!!

    Thanks for the humor, along with the comments that vanilla does not have to be a bad choice if a car is just another appliance.

    Oh, by the way, those Chrysler 300’s are great cars but the vacuum trunk release is a nightmare to track down leaks, you have to get a roll of hose and just replace the whole thing to properly fix it. And don’t even think about finding a replacement hood. They only made enought to fit on the 500 +/- cars they built, and they were a two piece mold and they tend to warp…. But they have a great drive trains but you could have that in any Mopar of that period.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      That’s a tremendous insight about the 300s, I hadn’t considered that the aftermarket trunk release might be a nightmare.

      It’s true that I get around and I’ve had my share of first-rate experiences — but brother Bark flies 150 segments, and does 200 hotel nights, every year so they treat him like a king in every airport known to man!

      Reply
      • AvatarLynnG

        Jack, the trick is you have to use the same airline/hotel group on regular basis and not go for lowest cost. In 2008-2009 I spent 300 room nights each year at the IHG group hotels and for the next two years everytime I checked in I got a suite, it was good while it lasted. Oh, and sorry I previously called Bark aka Mark, “Bart” that was a typo.

        Reply
        • AvatarBark M

          Bart is less offended by the typo than by the characterization of himself as a Appalachian Willy Loman.

          Director of Enterprise Partner Development for a Forbes 500 company, gracias.

          Reply
          • AvatarLynnG

            Bark, no offense intended… I was just thinking you were a fellow district sales manager… and Bark knowone would confuse you or me with Dustin Hoffman… 🙂 🙂

  6. AvatarScottS

    Jack, this is your best commentary of 2019 and provides quite a contrast to the interviews aired today of the nonagenarians that survived the attack on Pearl Harbor. American culture as devolved significantly since 1941. Seaman First Class Stuart Hedley used the word “wicked” to describe the way many Americans treat their own country today. Profound ignorance is also a fitting description.

    I have enjoyed your writing at Hagerty this year and continue to follow Mark at TTAC, but I do miss your presence over at R&T. The 2020 PCOTY article was a huge disappointment. Not because my favorite car didn’t win, but because I wasn’t buying the synthetic arguments for choosing the humble Veloster N from a very strong field of contenders. I would wager that if the testers were able to take home the cars from the 2020 PCOTY, the Veloster would be the one left in the parking lot. Bob Lutz provided the most credible and efficient evaluation of the cars and rest of the story was manufactured to fill the many pages between the WeatherTech and Tire Rack ads. When they prefaced the arguments for the Veloster with, “But before you set this magazine on fire”, that is exactly want I did.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      It’s easy for me to criticize PCOTY but I’m not stuck trying to run a print magazine AND a website on the budget formerly allocated to the latter. The unfortunate fact is that Hyundai is one of the few automakers buying print ads nowadays and I think there was a calculated decision made. It was also a middle finger to the two former Editors-in-Chief who were dead set against allowing “shitty little cars” into the competition.

      Reply
      • AvatarScottS

        I’m not necessarily against “shitty little cars”, but rather an outcome that doesn’t add up to the reader. The best shitty little ‘performance’ car currently available has been dealt a thousand cuts by automotive journalist. That would be the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ platform. The Rodney Dangerfield of the shrinking sports car world. I can appreciate how hard is must be to continue selling a magazine that features so many automobiles that most of the readers can’t afford and rarely see on the highway in most of the country. If C&D and R&T don’t start writhing about trucks and SUVs the only thing left in the future will be exotic hyper cars. Not a happy prospect. At Hagerty you have the universe of past as well as present cars, and used cars will be increasingly in demand for the new generation of enthusiast drivers for which few options are available new.

        Reply
  7. Avatar-Nate

    An enjoying and informative read .

    I’ve enjoyed deconstructing the psychology of TV adverts for decades, they’re fascinating .

    -Nate

    Reply
  8. Avatararbuckle

    “a world where everything bends, Inception-style, around the wealthy white woman who runs the show while commanding the lion’s share of attention and affection.”

    So the Earth?

    Reply
  9. Avatarpanatomic-x

    i’d like to add as someone who has spent too much time working with ad agencies, that at least half the people who worked on that spot were aware of it’s “issues” but decide to keep their mouths shut and get paid. last night i worked in a piece about why keanu’s girlfriend made the brave decision not to die her hair. 😔

    Reply
    • AvatarRonnie Schreiber

      Go see what insiders are telling the Detroti Free Press about Ford’s DPS6 dual-clutch transmission. It seems like everyone there knew it was a POS but projects take on lives of their own and plenty of inertia. So companies keep throwing good money after bad instead of just admitting failure and starting over with something else.

      Reply
      • AvatarJohn C.

        Wonder if contact with those “insiders” was all provided by plaintiff’s attorneys to create a positive feedback loop for their attempted shake down?

        Reply
  10. AvatarCompaq Deskpro

    It’s great you wrote about this, I saw this ad a week ago, I had a laugh over the idea of recording daily vlogs of something as mundane as a daily bike workout.

    I got the vibe the husband on the couch was too polite to say “I’m glad your enjoying your exercise bike, but are you alright?.” I think that is what disturbs people is that the husband approves of her (seemingly unhealthy) obsession. Maybe the commercial should have her hopping on the bike first thing Christmas mourning, and her daughter and husband confront her and say, “Wait we have to unwrap gifts”, then they unwrap gifts and they also get exercise machines courtesy of hero dad, add some family support to make it a bit less deranged.

    BTW, this the best excercise bike you can buy, and it costs a lot less than this.
    https://www.roguefitness.com/rogue-echo-bike?prod_id=54708&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIvuKk2KGm5gIVSNyGCh3DQQEEEAQYASABEgKF9vD_BwE

    Reply
    • AvatarRonnie Schreiber

      The best exercise bike you can buy has two wheels and rides on the road or on trails. On a real bike you can go out and ride for hours.

      Reply
      • Avatarsaboten.fighter

        I’ve got a number of bikes, but I understand the charm of a stationary. Considering traffic and other issues, I cant get a solid ride in in the morning before work. With my single speed set up on a magnetic trainer, I can ride for a solid 30-45min nonstop then jump straight to the shower. The only downside is it’s boring compared to riding on the road.

        Reply
  11. Avatartrollson

    Never saw the ad and probably never will, but judging by the “buzz” it’s created I would say it was very effective.

    Reply
  12. AvatarJohn C.

    Great how good commentary by author and commenters draw me back in.

    I like this ad a lot. The way the set and the mother are quite idealized with the product seeming a natural part of the scene seems quite traditional to me. Sure the woman buying the bike won’t live up to the ideal but that should not stop them from trying. A modern housewife won’t spend time like a 50s housewife with her head buried in a Julia Child cookbook making the perfect dinner for her husband but she might spend all day on that bike working on her problem areas. It isn’t hard to see that the real point in both time periods is to occupy her day.

    I also like how the child is just in the background, the adults after all are what’s important to the story being told. An intact well off family is after all still the ideal, don’t no how advertisers would have gotten off that tract. Maybe because the industry was ghettoized from Americans to European refugees for whom it is a mission to destroy what they resent and do not understand. Perhaps the second Christmas the guy with the nice chin went ahead and got her that Julia Child cookbook and a fancy pants Wolf stove.

    Reply
  13. AvatarGene

    Is there anyone buying these bikes who doesn’t wish they were living in that house with a well behaved decorative child?

    Reply
  14. AvatarRonnie Schreiber

    My favorite woke criticism of this as was the lady who complained of its sexism, while essentially saying it’s okay for a wife to cut her husband off of sex if he dares to give her an appliance as a gift, and then approvingly posted a tweet that more or less said to buy your wife jewelry.

    Coincidentally I just bought a new indoor trainer for my bike.

    I’d be interested to find out how many actual cyclists use a Peloton or go to spin classes. My guess is very few. Riding a bicycle indoors is about the most boring thing I’ve ever done. Dental work is almost easier to endure. At my peak fitness I’ve never been able to spend more than 40 minutes on an indoor trainer, and even world class cyclists say it’s mind numbing torture, so maybe doing it in a social situation might get the motivation up higher, for someone, but not me.

    Reply
    • AvatarAoLetsGo

      Well I don’t know if I qualify as an “actual” cyclist but I think I am close. It’s not the fact that I own 7 bikes (one is my restored college bike and more of an antique), or that I road ride, mountain bike, gravel race, snow ride on my fatty, or do solo, self-support touring trips. No, I think it is that when I run into distant friends the first thing they ask me about is my riding.

      I do not own a Pelton and would never spend that kind of money on a trainer. I also find indoor training very boring, on a side note I know one hard core who would get up early and ride in the basement for 2 hours just staring at the wall. However, that guy is more than a little off in many ways.

      I do confess to going to a lot of spinning classes especially in the winter. When it is cold, dark and dreary for months on end a good sweat, loud music, and energetic, fit classmates can give an exercise high. I also like the challenge of some studios where your numbers are up on the board so you can compete against yourself and the rest of the class. I love to crush the younger, “fitter” riders.

      The 3 people who I know that have bought a Pelton are older, middle-age guys. Only one of them was an outside rider but they all lost weight and said they felt better. We will see if they keep going in their second year of ownership.

      Reply
    • Avatareverybodyhatesscott

      At my peak fitness I’ve never been able to spend more than 40 minutes on an indoor trainer, and even world class cyclists say it’s mind numbing torture, so maybe doing it in a social situation might get the motivation up higher, for someone, but not me.

      Mind numbing torture is a good way to put it. I bought an exercise back last year so I could get some indoor riding during the winter. It was a waste of money. I’ve ridden it 10 times.

      Reply
      • AvatarRonnie Schreiber

        It seems to me that if you regularly ride, a trainer for your regular bike makes more sense than a dedicated exercise bike. The geometry is already set up and you can use your regular bike shoes and clip ins.

        Not just mind-numbing. When riding IRL, I’m in and out of the saddle all the time. When riding on a trainer, I’m sitting for the duration. The only time I’ve ever experienced any kind of cycling related numbness in the, ahem, groinal region, has been on a trainer.

        Reply
    • Avatar-Nate

      RE : stationary bikes :

      After I bought my house in 1988 the ex told me I was too flabby so I got an old fashioned excercise bike and a good pair of headphones, set it up in front of the TV set and pedaled away as I watched the evening news .

      I thought she’d be happy but of course she was envious that I’d simply do a thing she wouldn’t and so she whined, bitched and moaned until I threw it away .

      ! WOMEN ! can’t live with ’em, not allowed to shoot ’em…….

      -Nate

      Reply
  15. Avatarrambo furum

    I’ll credit the author with the fact that after I finally noticed that mommy had opened her gifts first that I immediately knew this was it.

    I guess the lefty crowd saw her unattractive facial expressions as anguished looks. JB didn’t explicitly state that modern women love recording themselves making dumb faces out of some false humility, but that is it, right?

    Reply
  16. AvatarPaul M.

    I think you got it wrong about the guy and what he is wearing being in any way related to him being lower class than his wife. He is just ultra smart in how I look at it. Every female of age who is smart and well off that I know, loves rough guys. Guys that wear plaid, are bigger, taller, rougher. This guy is at least a little rough (plaid, t-shirt, jeans). Now if the guy wears boots and cowboy hat, its game set match. Women may not admit it, but nine out of ten women I know that are upwardly mobile, like their men rough.

    Reply
        • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

          If he thought I meant that the guy was an actual lumberjack then I weep for his ability to comprehend, my ability to convey, or both.

          Reply
  17. AvatarShortest Circuit

    I don’t like that ad executives think their idea of a successful person lives like them, in a house like theirs and a life like theirs. Generic “successful family” home looks like how Ferris describes Cameron’s home: cold like a museum. No art on the wall, not a rug, not a cozy corner, but $7 grand designer furniture by Swedish minimalists, that funky orange juicer that looks like it will shoot lasers at Tom Cruise, a 2-car garage (QX60h for mom, company Mercedes for dad, both strictly gray) and white welcome mats. Sadly I see no chance that this little girl will eventually crash a Ferrari into through the windows.

    Reply
  18. Avatarhank chinaski

    An ad that will live in infamy….well, at least since the beachbody.com ad brouhaha.
    More people are talking about the product than before the ad, so mission accomplished. The mind boggles at how such a company had 1.5B to lose in the first place. I’m guessing that vigorous shorting was involved. Speculation on what these things will go for on Craigslist next year?

    Who else would star in such an ad but a genetically blessed low BMI woman in the magic 17-23 age window? A 37 year old struggling to lose the post-IVF pregnancy FUPA of daily 800 calorie Starbucks drinks and drunk brunches?
    That set is a Barbie’s dream townhouse, and she’s the Disney princess. Dickless Ken doll included.

    For $2245, at least you’re spared of hearing Tony Horton’s corny lines for the hundredth time. The boomer class sub that I once toured sported a vanilla trainer in a dark corner facing a bulkhead. Torture.

    Reynolds is tapping that, for sure. Giggity!

    Reply
  19. Avatarjc

    It’s remarkable that I’ve managed to get along all these years jsut fine by putting my road bike up on a $300 wind resistance stand and using a music stand and a bungee cord to hold a book.

    Even better, when the snow melts you take the bike off the stand and go for an actual bike ride.

    But what do I know? I’ve only been riding seriously since 1976.

    Reply
    • AvatarRonnie Schreiber

      I recently replaced my old A-frame lean-to wind resistance trainer with a fluid unit. On sale at Performance/Nashbar for $100. It’s a lot quieter and while I appreciate the minimalist design of the old trainer, the new one is a lot more stable.

      Reply
  20. AvatarTony LaHood

    Marvelous ! You really Zaprudered the spot and your analysis is spot-on. Now, if you’ll kindly turn your attention to the spots featuring:

    Dad(s) doing the laundry with Tide pods
    Kendall Jenner’s patronizing Pepsi crusade
    Liberty Miguel’s “Wear down resistance through repetition” jingle
    The uber-annoying Cascade dishwasher kid
    “I just spent.$150K on his and hers GMC trucks for Christmas”
    The white-clad, merry band of Progressive insurance shills
    Any Apple product

    Reply
  21. Avatarscotten

    “There is no such thing as bad publicity” …. I wonder if this uproar was engineered by the company, as they are still airing the ad on broadcast TV. If it was really a bad commercial then Peloton would have yanked it already.

    Reply
  22. AvatarDean in AZ

    I knew it wasn’t an ad aimed at men as from the moment she got on that Peloton we never got to see her ass from behind. Lots of side-thigh, though.

    Ads aimed at men would feature a nice behind shot.

    Reply
  23. AvatarCliffG

    I think you are wrong about the couple being upper middle class. Also, he does make more money than she does. They live near an urban center, otherwise their jobs would not pay what they do, so figure the house is somewhere north of $2.5 million. He dresses like that because he can, not because he has too. They are also thin and very good looking, which if they were real would mean great genetics and wealthy parents. Since they are actors anything is possible except the reality of great genetics. The commercial is aimed at the upper middle class, albeit probably substantially older than the demographic pictured. What is pictured is the top 2%, not the top 10% Big difference. This advertisement is not nearly as blatantly false as the chip ads which depict exclusively thin people eating their product. And, it you did buy the product and use it for something other than a clothes rack, might make you fitter. So it’s got that going for it.

    Reply
  24. AvatarBaconator

    Here are the internal Peloton docs describing their “brand positioning” and desiderata for the ad campaign:

    I can’t say that they got their money’s worth.

    Reply
  25. Avatarjc

    One of the big reasons I went into cycling was that I hated being yelled at by coaches while doing PE things. So now I’m supposed to drop more than 2 grand on a exercycle so I can be yelled at over an Ipad?

    Yeah, right.

    I guess the desire for boot camp is so inherent in some people that they’ll spend money to have that experience even when they don’t have to. Me, I’ll go for a long bike ride on a route of my choosing at a pace of my choosing and I’ll sing my songs and think my thoughts with no one to talk back.

    And Ronnie, you’re right, my training stand uses either a fluid coupling or eddy current braking, not wind resistance.

    Reply
    • AvatarKen

      Indeed, how will I achieve “ball bearing brain” with Chad screaming at me to blast my quads?

      The point of riding is the sport, the activity, whether enjoyed on the road or in the woods, by yourself or with friends . Fitness is secondary to the sport itself. The main reason I’m fit is because I love mountain biking, and the only reason I maintain my fitness on a mind-numbing indoor training is to do more mountain biking out-freaking-side.

      Reply
  26. Avatarbluebarchetta

    I thought the ad was a promo for the next Breaking Bad spinoff. The ricin Walter gave Lydia didn’t kill her. It just left her with an inexplicable and unquenchable desire to ride a stationary bike.

    Reply
  27. AvatarCdotson

    I admit to having not seen this ad nor been aware of any related outrage mob.

    From the very first time I saw any ad relating to this “Peloton” thing the only thought that was screaming in my mind was “CULT.” Probably an attempt to artificially create an Apple-like cult, but a cult none the less.

    Reply
  28. AvatarBrill DeBranzino

    Generally spot-on analysis of this class of people, though I disagree with the “she’s the breadwinner” conclusion. The rule for this social class is that the most important person at the meeting is the most informally dressed. Likely, the husband and his grad school friends made an App that was bought out for tens of millions by GoogleFacebookApple a decade ago; now he works for a VC firm or something and sits on a couple boards. (Yes, his face is 300% prettier than the average people in that spot, but that’s the fantasy aspect). Working class is sports team sweatshirts; flannel and dark jeans = “I came of age in the 1990’s and haven’t really changed my style, but my wife and the maid make sure my stuff is new and neatly-pressed.”

    As for the wife, she doesn’t work full time. She has a hard-to-pin-down “job” involving public relations or events planning that takes up maybe 15 hours in an average week, but it does allow her to don her neutral-tone professional wear and get out of the house on occasion for meetings. THAT is the true having-it-all dream.

    Reply
    • AvatarOne Leg at a Time

      Agree – there is no way we are supposed to think the husband is a manual laborer. He has a job where he is able to ‘dress down’ in $300 worth of Duluth Trading or LL Bean; and does “Tough Mudder” races for fun.

      Your description of the wife’s “job” is spot on. You only fail to mention that she has a blog insisting that a woman can ‘have it all’; and that those 15 taxing hours are why she has a ‘help’ to raise the child and keep the house clean.

      Reply
      • Avatarjc

        The way I see the faux-lumberjack getup is that the husband has some kind of corporate employment (“marketing manager for E-commerce” or such). He’s probably the major earner. These days, faux-lumberjack is how upper-middle-class guys who don’t know a screw driver from a bus driver dress on their day off. Go to any soccer field in a hotsy totsy suburb and you’ll see.

        Jack may see the wife’s clothing and the husband’s clothing as signaling a class difference, but what I see in my life is that this is more a matter of sexual dimorphism within a single class. Trust me, he’s just as prissy and entitled as she is. That prissy entitled Millennial cohort is who this thing is being marketed to; that and the prissy entitled Gen-Xers who wish they were younger so they could be prissy entitled Millennials.

        Reply
  29. Avatarrpn453

    This Peloton thing is far less interesting than I imagined. I’ve seen glimpses of ads in the background and thought that a virtual bike trainer that I can ride through scenic locations on my big screen TV with a group of other online riders might actually make stationary riding interesting. I figured we’d be at that point by now.

    This? I’d rather put the bike on the mag trainer and watch football; assuming it stopped functioning outdoors for some reason.

    Reply
  30. Avatardejal

    Oh god, the kid, is sitting in front of butcher paper wrapped presents and mom has opened this year’s presents in colorful boxes and AFTER watching mom’s pat herself on the back with such a awesome selfie video. I hadn’t noticed that.

    That kid is going to grow up with Harry Chapin’s “The cat’s in the cradle” as her favorite song. Hopefully though she doesn’t replicate mom’s life.

    Reply
  31. Avatar-Nate

    Here in La La Land I have noticed new peoloton TV adverts with a man riding it so I guess the social media out burst made them sit up and take notice .

    -Nate

    Reply
    • Avatardejal

      Forgot to say, that’s from Woot owned by Amazon. I think they got the idea because the kid is holding the monkey at the beginning of the Peloton ad. Woot’s mascot is a stuffed monkey.

      Great place to buy stuff either overstocked or refurbed. Everytime I’ve bought something, there’s been something wrong with the item. They’ve either knocked the price down after the fact or let me keep the item and sent me another and didn’t care if I got it to work later. I’ve gotten that stuff to work later.

      Reply
  32. Avatarjc

    So, old married guys, which is more likely to get you sleeping on the couch:

    Buying your wife a Dustbuster for Christmas, or

    Buying your wife an exercycle for Christmas?

    When I imagine the two scenarios with me and my wife, they both make my skin crawl and I can’t decide which would be worse.

    Reply
    • Avatar-Nate

      This is no small thing if you’re in fact married .

      I’m lucky in that my abject fear of getting the wrong thing means I do things for her all year ’round and simply tell her : you know I’ll get it wrong so tell me what you want or get nothing .

      Some years ago it was an $1,500.00 wig, custom made, she picked it out and I wrangled the price down to $800.00, she wore it some then it got burned up when that asshole Foster kid burned us out .

      -Nate

      Reply
      • Avatar-Nate

        BTW : I only sleep on the couch when it helps my back, my ex wife tried that B.S. on me, I told her if she didn’t want to sleep next to me, the sofa was in the living room…….

        -Nate

        Reply
  33. Avatarjc

    Two more comments:

    1) I don’t think the “wife” is supposed to be 22; she looks more like a fit 32 with some Botox applied here and there (yes, youth-obsessed women in their late 20s and early 30s are having one of the most powerful neurotoxins known injected into their skins so they won’t have “wrinkles”.

    2) That facial expression at the top of the post looks like “Ow what a gas pain!” to me.

    Reply
  34. AvatarOne Leg at a Time

    I am ‘pleased’ to inform that I have just seen the short version of this commercial for the first time (NBCSn – World Cup Skiing)

    The husband does not make an appearance at all, but the daughter does.

    It did not inspire me to purchase a Peloton for myself, or my lady; but I doubt that I am the target audience.

    Reply
  35. AvatarFrank

    After watching several Peloton commercials, I’ve reached the conclusion that I couldn’t own anything they make because I’m neither in good enough shape nor skinny enough to use it.

    Reply

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