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Peloton goes from marketing punchline to ESPN programming with new ‘All-Stars Ride’

Forget the Peloton Wife. This live show will feature athletes like the NBA’s Gordon Hayward, golfer Rory McIlroy, and tennis star Monica Puig taking a spin.

Peloton goes from marketing punchline to ESPN programming with new ‘All-Stars Ride’
[Photo: courtesy of Peloton]

Back on November 12, Peloton posted a new holiday ad that lit the internet up like the Griswold’s house.

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If you can remember back that far, a husband presents his wife with the gift of a tech-enabled stationary bike, and she proceeds to document her journey embarking on the interactive fitness platform. The reaction was so sudden and divided that even Ryan Reynolds jumped in and put Peloton Wife in an Aviation Gin response ad.

But fast-forward a few months to our current reality of social distancing and work-at-home lockdown, and who’s laughing now?

Peloton revenue skyrocketed by 66% in its fiscal third quarter, and last month it held its largest-ever class streaming for 23,000 people.

Now, with live sports largely still on hold, the brand is taking another step in helping fitness fans stay entertained by teaming with ESPN for an actual live broadcast of a celebrity Spin class. On Saturday, May 30 at 12 p.m. ET / PT, the cable sports giant will broadcast two live Peloton rides, to create a one-hour special called All-Stars Ride, featuring professional athletes from a variety of sports. Participating athletes include golfers Rory McIlroy and Bubba Watson, Boston Celtics’ Gordon Hayward, tennis star Monica Puig, and USC women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley.

Peloton’s chief content officer Jen Cotter says that this is the first time the brand has done a media collaboration like this. “A few months ago, ESPN approached Peloton,” says Cotter. “With sports cancelled, we were seeing pro athletes turn to Peloton, more than ever, and posting, tweeting, and challenging teammates and our community to join them in rides. We loved the idea of highlighting our pro-athlete fans and quickly developed the idea to create a friendly competition among some of them in the community, while continuing to support one of our partners, Food Bank for New York City. The entire concept and execution came together in about six weeks.”

The challenge for the athletes, aside from bragging rights, is to collectively hit an ambitious combined energy output of 3,000 (a Peloton metric calculated by speed and resistance). If they do, Peloton will donate one million meals to the Food Bank of New York City.

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Overall, it’s an ideal branded content opportunity.

“This project also gave us the opportunity to show the world what makes the Peloton community and experience so unique,” says Cotter. “It is really fun, fiercely competitive—if you want it to be—and the home for competitors of all levels to feel welcome and included. In this case, the friendly competition led to the support of Food Bank for New York City, but on any other day, the connection between our members ranges from competition to mutual accountability to motivation.”

Maybe next time, they can get Mr. Reynolds.

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About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.

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