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Peloton's New Ad Is a Game Changer

By Rick Munarriz – Updated Dec 13, 2021 at 5:48PM

Key Points

  • Two years after putting out a widely criticized holiday ad, Peloton's marketing team has put out one that is being hailed as the great response to a recent snag.
  • A key character is killed off in last week's debut of "And Just Like That" after a Peloton workout, and that helped the stock slide to a new low on Friday.
  • Bringing back the stars of the damaging scene just three days after it aired is swift and savvy marketing that could mark a bottom in Peloton stock.

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Things went from bad to worse after Peloton's signature bike played a cruel cameo in a new TV show, but a viral ad campaign on Sunday is the perfect response.

Spoiler alert: This story does mention a key plot point form HBO Max's And Just Like That from last Thursday, as it played a part in moving a stock's price last week.

For the second time in the last three years, Peloton Interactive (PTON 1.54%) is turning heads with a holiday ad. A big difference is that folks aren't laughing at the premium fitness specialist's expense this time around. 

The 2019 holiday commercial was widely lampooned, but the new spot that rolled out on Sunday hits different. It's a strong -- and surprisingly fast -- response to a reputation-smearing plot twist in last week's Sex and the City reboot where an iconic character dies after working out on a Peloton stationary bike. 

It's not very often that a single ad can turn a stock around, but Peloton clearly nailed it this time. The shares hit an 19-month low on Friday. It's been a rough year for Peloton investors for various self-inflicted reasons, but the stock's latest tumble followed Thursday's premiere of And Just Like That on HBO Max with Peloton in an unflattering cameo. If the stock just bottomed out, you can probably thank this brilliant piece of viral marketing. 

Someone taking a break from a Peloton workout to admire skyscrapers in the city.

Image source: Peloton.

To new beginnings 

It's not cool to sprinkle show or movie spoilers into financial stories, but it's unavoidable this time. Peloton stock took a 16% hit in the final two trading days of last week -- even as the general market was rallying -- largely because the producers of And Just Like That chose to use the bike to kill off the character played by Chris Noth. The show had him experience a heart attack shortly after completing a Peloton workout featuring the character's favorite instructor (played by real-life Peloton instructor Jess King). 

The home fitness player was already reeling before the cruel cameo. There was the springtime recall of Peloton's treadmill, complete with federal subpoenas, after some horrific accidents. The reopening of fitness centers and spinning classes as COVID-19-tackling vaccinations hit the market also slowed momentum at Peloton. Between the rising churn rates, slowing growth, and slashed guidance, there wasn't a lot to get investors excited about Peloton even before last week's diss on premium cable. 

However, within three days of the episode airing, Peloton put out a viral video starring Noth and King. The two are on a couch in front of a crackling fireplace as Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata plays. 

"To new beginnings," they say, and then Noth suggestively asks to go on another ride because life's too short not to. 

Ryan Reynolds -- yes, that Ryan Reynolds -- then kicks in with a voiceover, pointing out that regular cycling helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. 

"He's alive," Reynolds says at the spot's conclusion.

The clip went viral after being released across social media by both Peloton and Reynolds on Sunday afternoon. Millions had seen the clip by Monday morning, and at some point this week more people will have seen the viral response than the And Just Like That episode itself. 

Peloton may have done a lot of things wrong this year, and the stock bears those scars. Shares of Peloton have fallen more than 75% year to date. However, quickly turning out this response with the actual stars is the kind of marketing mastery that folks will be talking about years from now. If Peloton-owning fans of And Just Like That were pondering canceling their connected fitness subscriptions after last week's shocking plot twist, this online ad will keep them in place. It will make Peloton that much cooler for folks considering a purchase. 

It's the clean break that the out-of-favor workout specialist -- and former growth stock -- needed after a brutal 2021. To new beginnings indeed.

Rick Munarriz has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns and recommends Peloton Interactive. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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