Peloton is the latest craze sweeping the fitness world and earlier this month, it swept the airwaves (and Twitter) with an infamous ad that has been garnering a lot of backlash. There’s no doubt that the commercial was weird and off-putting but there’s also no doubt that it’s got the Peloton brand name on the tip of every reporter and internet commentator’s tongue. With any marketing blunder, there are lessons to be learned and refined for the next time – here are a few takeaways any email marketer can apply when looking to make a splash with their own efforts

Create divisive content to spark conversation

Depending on the brand you work for and how much creative control you have, this is easier said than done. But sometimes, there are big payoffs in not playing it safe. Experiment! Do something outside the box. It’s doubtful Peloton knew how controversial viewers would perceive the ad to be, so we can’t say this was fully planned, but as they say, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

Stand by your campaign

Did you complete the step above and make a splash? I think one of the remarkable things about this ad is that Peloton issued a statement and stood their ground. They’re sticking with it, and I think there’s something to be said for a brand who releases a campaign, gets people talking, and doesn’t sway their stance on the issue because people disagree with it. 

Note** Use your best judgment. If you publish something that is truly offensive, off-color or just plain wrong PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE own up to it, apologize and make it right.

Know your champions

As a brand, you’re bound to screw up. When you do, both your haters and die-hard fans will show up. This is a good opportunity to identify some of your own brand champions. If you have a community or customer advocacy program, make sure these people are added to it or put into a special nurture campaign. There are endless opportunities here for product education and upsell (Peloton treadmill, anyone?).

Capitalize on the trickle effect

Maybe you didn’t make a splash but another player in your space did and there’s a way for you to quickly incorporate that into a campaign. Within days of the controversy spike, Aviation Gin hired the Peloton commercial actress (Monica Ruiz) and shot a response commercial, gently poking fun at the controversy while promoting their own product. Again, use your best judgment here, but if there’s an opportunity to be a part of the buzz and you can do it in a tasteful way, sometimes nothing is more appealing to consumers than humor and a brand that keeps their finger on the pulse of the pop-cultural landscape.

Bask in free feedback

I can’t tell you how many tweets I saw where people exclaimed that they own and love their Peloton but they too hated the ad! Single working parents, athletes recovering from injuries, people in remote locations who can’t make it to a gym because of distance, weather, etc, the list goes on. This feedback is a goldmine for any marketing team. What an opportunity to better understand your customer base, what they love about your product, and how they’re using it. Capture all of this feedback for your product teams and use it to influence your roadmap and ideas for future campaigns.

Whether you loved the ad or hated it – it got people talking about the Peloton brand, created buzz and awareness which was the whole point! I challenge you to emulate this in at least one of your 2020 campaigns and let me know how it goes. Just not from 5-5:30 am – that’s when I do HIIT and hills with Cody Rigsby. 🙂

~ Jen