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Peloton faces backlash over ‘sexist, dystopian’ exercise bike advert

In ad man buys his partner an exercise bike for Christmas and she vlogs her grateful thanks

WT24 Desk

The exercise bike company Peloton has been widely criticised for a Christmas advert described as “sexist” and “dystopian” by social media users, The Guardian reports.

In the advert, a woman is seen receiving the gift of an exercise bike from her partner. There follows a series of vlog-style clips of her filming herself on the bike. In the course of it, she says: “Five days in a row, are you surprised? I am!” and: “A year ago I didn’t realise how much this would change me.”

It has been compared to the dystopian television series Black Mirror, not least because the woman’s grateful thank you to her partner at the end is delivered via the medium of her showing him the vlog clips, on what appears to be following year’s Christmas morning.

Others have suggested that at times it resembles a hostage video.

Titled “the gift that gives back”, the promo clip was first published in early November, but the whirl of criticism only gathered pace online in the last couple of days, with the effect that the company’s share price dropped by 9%.

Critics have pointed out that the woman in the advert is already slim at the start, and that the implication that her partner thinks she needs to get fitter and lose weight is patronising and damaging.

On YouTube the video has garnered nearly 2m views to date, but is attracting five “thumbs down” ratings for every “thumbs up” it gets. Peloton has disabled comments on the YouTube post.

Other social media responses have been more graphic.

The company sells fitness equipment equipped with touchscreens. Fitness classes are streamed to the user so that they can take part in group exercise without having to leave home.

New rules came into force in the UK in January stipulating that ads “must not include gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence”. In August Philadelphia cream cheese and Volkswagen became the first brands to have adverts banned under the new guidance. The Philadelphia campaign featured new fathers acting ineptly while looking after their children, while the VW advert featured a woman sitting next to a pram.

Peloton has been approached for comment.

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