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Peloton’s new Christmas ad is just normal enough to make the ‘Peloton Wife’ controversy vanish

A big-time holiday campaign, and a soundtrack from Danny Elfman, erases the company’s ghost of Christmas past.

Peloton’s new Christmas ad is just normal enough to make the ‘Peloton Wife’ controversy vanish
[Source photos: Peloton; Giftpundits.com /Pexels]

Peloton has joined the holiday advertising race with its first major Christmas ad since—y’know.

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Back in 2019, the brand unleashed “A Gift Like No Other,” aka the Peloton Wife ad, which revolved around a young, fit mom getting an exercise bike from her husband for Christmas. The backlash was immediate and, largely, hilarious. Even Ryan Reynolds jumped in to make an Aviation Gin spot from the controversy. Of course, just a few months later COVID hit, everyone was stuck at home, and Peloton exploded in pandemic popularity.

Now the brand returns to the yuletide adfest with a big budget spot, created with the Christmas ad elves at agency Adam&EveDDB, and a soundtrack by Oscar-winner Danny Elfman. In it, Brett Gelman (Fleabag, Stranger Things) stars as Scrooge, who has apparently replaced his penny-pinching for “getting hella swole.”

The approach here is understandable. When you have the opportunity and budget for a major do-over, you go to the best. If it’s a misguided house renovation, you call Chip and Joanna Gaines to fix it. If it’s a holiday ad, you call the agency that basically invented the modern Christmas ad. It was adam&eveDDB that, back in 2009, created “The John Lewis Effect” with the UK retailer and effectively made the holiday season Britain’s advertising Super Bowl.

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Peloton has another spot dropping on November 8, but as a singular ad, what we’re given here in just 30 seconds feels more like a tease than a fully formed idea. Perhaps that was the intention—just a taste of brand hype before the company’s first-quarter earnings call later on Thursday. But usually these big holiday spots stretch themselves out a bit. Sure, they get shortened for certain media commercial media buys, but the major push goes behind the big swing. John Lewis, for example, just released its new Xmas spot at a running time of about two full minutes.

Back in 1835, eight years before he committed Scrooge to the page, Charles Dickens wrote in Christmas Festivities, “There are people who will tell you that Christmas is not to them what it used to be — that each succeeding Christmas has found some cherished hope or happy prospect of the year before, dimmed or passed away — and that the present only serves to remind them of reduced circumstances and straitened incomes — of the feasts they once bestowed on hollow friends, and of the cold looks that meet them now, in adversity and misfortune. Never heed such dismal reminiscences.”

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It’s clear that Peloton’s SVP and global head of marketing, Dara Treseder, didn’t heed any dismal reminiscences of Peloton Wife. Casting Gelman as Scrooge is a commercial masterstroke with such fun potential. Murray Bauman as the ultimate humbug?! Sadly, all we get from him is one, “NO!” yelled at a crew of door-knocking carolers. Not enough. No! Still, it’s definitely good enough to escape global mockery and another Reynolds spoof. #Blessed.

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About the author

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

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