The dysfunctional Peloton ad that turned into a holiday disaster for the workout bike brand became the focus of some sensational newsjacking (in this case, ad-jacking) last week when Canadian actor and liquor magnate Ryan Reynolds did a brilliant send-up of the troubled woman in the Peloton spot (which you can watch here) by enlisting her for a clever new ad about a woman who’s out with girlfriends, very glamorous but with that same disheveled glare from the bike ad, and looking like she could really use a drink.
Yes, it’s terrific advertising, but the PR brilliance also shines brightly
The subtle genius of the ad, for Reynolds’ Aviator Gin brand, is that it doesn’t explicitly refer to the highly criticized spot, but the first-class timing of its release—within just a couple of days of the Peloton hubbub—makes the connection more than clear. And the Peloton actress superbly plays the part of a woman so relieved to be out of the house and away from the judgment implied in the bike ad. With “smooth” Aviator Gin martinis in hand, the ladies drink to “new beginnings,” and after being assured that she’s “safe here,” Peloton girl really starts to put ‘em away. The emotional resonance is palpable. ICYMI, here’s the ad:
Why the ad succeeds so perfectly
From a viewer standpoint, the connection between the two ads is so flawless and natural (thanks largely to the perfect timing)—the conversation is sparse but on point, and the friends’ reaction so telling—that the cleverness of the spot shines brightly without any specific allusions.
But from a branding perspective, Reynolds did everything just right. I’m betting someone put in some serious overtime to make this happen. The same actress was somehow quickly tracked down and enlisted. The ad skewers the Peloton spot without having to mention it at all, much less dredge up any elements of the critical pile-on (which sent Peloton’s stock into a tailspin).
And let me say it again: the timing was the perfect factor, essential to consumers’ ability to immediately connect the ads (even though Reynolds made sure the connection was made with a well-timed tweet of the ad and his comment, “Exercise bike not included.”) Perfectly executed A+ newsjacking.
Another quality element of the ad’s success was the ability to capture the anger that consumers were feeling and quash it with subtle humor—providing a cathartic feeling for many who had been outraged. That high-level emotional connection is the kind most brands can only dream of making—but one that your brand could make with the right combination of branding-team cleverness, urgent attention to timing, and always keeping your cultural ear to the ground.
Ryan Reynolds / Aviator Gin ad; photo source: Narcity
Thumbnail image source: CNNBusiness