Maybe it’s “OK Boomer” or “OK middle-aged guy” that I need to be hearing. When I first saw this ad for the Peloton I thought it was a clever idea. Maybe that was because the ad targets men — who may want their wives to lose some weight or get in shape. Let’s just say that many viewers took took away a different message — and then took to social media to air their displeasure. Maybe Siraj Hashmi’s tweet sums up the backlash best “Nothing says ‘maybe you should lose a few pounds’ like gifting your already rail thin life partner a Peloton.”
This ad provides a current example of a failure in the communication process. We talk about this in Chapter 13 — when the “encoded” message is different from the “decoded” message. When the message receiver doesn’t get the intended communication. I am not sure how widespread this is — maybe there were plenty of naive folks like me that were not offended. It might make an interesting discussion to pose the question about whether the backlash matters? I don’t pretend to know the answer to that question and the potential harm to Peloton’s brand image. On the other hand, it may depend on how the “target market” feels about the ad — and whether the target market is women or men (in this case it is positioned as a gift — though it could as easily be gifted to a man).