Did Aviation Gin just make lemonade from Peloton’s lemons?

Discussion
Sources: Aviation Gin - "The Gift That Doesn't Give Back"; Twitter/@VancityReynolds
Dec 10, 2019
George Anderson

Actor Ryan Reynolds is a funny guy and also the owner of the Aviation Gin brand. This week, Mr. Reynolds and Aviation are in the news for not only reveling in the misery of another business — Peloton — but turning that misery into a viral marketing tool to drive awareness of his company’s gin.

Peloton recently came under scrutiny for a commercial — “The Gift That Gives Back” — that many saw as demeaning to women and classist. At the beginning of the spot, a husband gives his clearly physically fit wife a Christmas gift of a Peloton bike in their large home.

Later in the spot, the actress, still quite physically fit, although not noticeably more so, later shares a video of herself using the machine with her husband. She tells him, “A year ago, I didn’t realize how much this would change me.”

The role of the wife in the commercial was played by Monica Ruiz who was quickly tagged on social media and in the press with descriptors — “Peloton Wife” and “Peloton Girl” — not intended as compliments.

That’s where Mr. Reynolds and Aviation came in. The company quickly hired Mr. Ruiz to star in an online spot promoting the gin brand called “The Gift That Doesn’t Give Back.”

The Aviation commercial features Ms. Ruiz seated at a bar in a dazed state between two friends, all with Aviation Gin cocktails. The friends, not entirely sure what to say, let Ms. Ruiz know that they are there for her and that she is “safe” with them.

The actress remarks on the smoothness of the gin before saying, “To new beginnings.” She downs her glass and then one of her friends’.

As the commercial moves to a shot of an Aviation Gin bottle, one of the friends remarks that, “You look great, by the way.”

Mr. Reynolds sent out a tweet about the spot with the caption: “Exercise bike not included.” The tweet has received 9.6 million views to date. The video on YouTube has nearly 4.4 million views.

Peloton, which responded to the controversy surrounding its commercial with a statement that it was “disappointed in how some have misinterpreted it,” has lost $1.6 billion in market value since running the original spot.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What is your reaction to the controversial Peloton spot and the public’s response to it? What do you think of the Aviation Gin response?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"What a smart move to bring itself to the top of mind for consumers – it will be interesting to see what kind of effect this ad has on Aviation Gin sales."
"The response to the Peloton ad highlights the real effects of Twitter mob reaction and the need for brands to apply the woke lens."
"In my view, Peloton poorly produced the ad making it overly dramatic and silly. That opened the door to the criticism."

Join the Discussion!

25 Comments on "Did Aviation Gin just make lemonade from Peloton’s lemons?"


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Kathleen Fischer
BrainTrust

It looks like Aviation Gin just made lemonade from Peloton’s lemons. What a smart move to bring itself to the top of mind for consumers – it will be interesting to see what kind of effect this ad has on Aviation Gin sales.

Dr. Stephen Needel
BrainTrust

Nothing is safe today – nobody asked what Peloton intended, they just thought they were promoting their product as fun, healthy, and psychologically transforming (ask bike riders – they’ll tell you the psychological effects often outweigh the obvious physical impact). The trolls who had nothing better to do than read more into the commercial than was ever intended need to get lives. And good for Aviation Gin – this is speedy marketing at its best.

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

Personally I think the response to the advert is a dramatic overreaction that reflects some people’s desire to be permanently offended. Many have automatically assumed that the “change me” statement relates to looks. But why should it? Maybe it was related to reaching goals or just feeling better by exercising more. As for criticism of the luxurious home: where should it be filmed? At a garbage disposal site? It’s a big fuss over nothing. There are bigger and way more important issues to deal with!

Cathy Hotka
BrainTrust

Loved the Aviation Gin ad.

Social media has changed everything about how brand messages are received. I’m just sorry that Twitter wasn’t around during the ’50s. I can only imagine women commenting “I never wear pearls when I vacuum” and “if our white laundry isn’t white enough, I doubt my husband will leave me.”

Suresh Chaganti
BrainTrust

The response to the Peloton ad highlights the real effects of Twitter mob reaction and the need for brands to apply the woke lens. That seeming physically fit doesn’t equal being healthy seems to be lost on most.

Mohamed Amer
BrainTrust

Peloton was so focused on their product as the message that they forgot about the customer and how she is portrayed and objectified in their spot.

Aviation Gin simply saw the opportunity to benefit from Peloton’s faux pas and the instant popularity of Ms. Ruiz. Aviation Gin created a follow-on spot that leverages the existing context and buzz around “Peloton wife.” Not only is it the Peloton antidote, the spot is smart, witty, and celebrates women on their own term. Smooth, very smooth!

Stephen Rector
BrainTrust

Peloton’s commercial was tone deaf and their response was even more tone deaf -which was not responding to the criticism, but mentioning comments from their “super-fans” only. They should have taken ownership of the error and moved on. What Ryan Reynolds and Aviator Gin did was great marketing – with how fast media moves currently, they had a short window to react. They moved fast and capitalized on the situation.

Kevin Graff
BrainTrust

Stephen and Neil get it absolutely right above. I never understood the negative backlash against the Peloton ad in the first place, other than of course being aware of the never-ending chorus of the media who need a negative story to run with each day it seems. Given the increased focus on mental health you would have thought more people would have got this. Peloton needed to step and and do a better job of explaining their intent. Hats off to Aviator Gin for seeing and running with an opportunity.

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

Certainly Peloton did not intend to diss the woman or its product in the video because that would make absolutely no sense. But unless his wife asked for a Peloton, giving her one for Christmas is this year’s equivalent of gifting her with a vacuum cleaner. My father did that once and it was ugly.

Aviation Gin jumped on a hot topic and made it its own. That’s what happens today. Brands need to understand that what they put out will be deeply scrutinized by the public and potentially destroyed on social media. I really think the marketers at Peloton should have see this one coming.

Mark Heckman
BrainTrust

If I were a shareholder of Peleton stock I would be seriously considering selling, not because of the so-called socially controversial TV commercial, but rather because of the apparent illogical and unstable nature of Peleton’s shareholder base, given their recent mass exodus over something totally unrelated to business performance. On the other hand, it might be a great buying opportunity, now that the stock is down and the emotion-drive shareholders have defected. With that said, Ryan Reynolds and team were absolutely brilliant in leveraging the controversy and further appealing to the “woke” crowd with their Aviation Gin spot. The fact this is a RetailWire topic is proof positive that their timely parody was spot on. The irony is that after losing $1.6 billion of market value, the leadership at Peleton could probably use a couple shots of gin.

Jeff Weidauer
BrainTrust

The entire Peloton controversy brings to mind the term “outrage amplification,” which is the social media-driven explosion over what would otherwise be insignificant mis-steps. I don’t know if the Peloton ad was a mis-step or not, but in six months the outrage will have moved elsewhere. Moving quickly is mandatory, so Aviation Gin gets high marks for capitalizing on this flash mob uprising.

Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

First we had “fast fashion.” Now we have “fast marketing.” Smart, insightful move. Somebody was really on their toes.

David Naumann
BrainTrust

I think the public overreacted to the original Peloton ad (IMHO). While Peloton’s stock may take a temporary hit from over-reacting investors, I am confident the negative press will be good for sales in the long-run. It dramatically increased brand awareness and as the saying goes, “any news is good news.”

As a matter of fact, I just purchased a Peloton bike. I was thinking about it and, just maybe, the Peloton drama reminded me to pull the trigger and buy the bike.

Aviation Gin was clever to capitalize on the buzz around the actress from the Peloton commercial and quickly create a follow-on ad. Again, any news is good news and Aviation Gin is now well known – a brand I have previously never heard of!

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

After reading the objections to the Peloton commercial my wife and I watched it. After the first view, we could not find any objection. So we watched again, and again, and again. Still no objection.

I can understand why I might not get it, but my wife is a health care professional that regularly deals with women and body image challenges. I must surmise, if she didn’t see anything, there wasn’t any implication by Peloton along the lines of what was alleged in the tweets and the news.

Heidi Sax
BrainTrust

Let’s be honest. The Peloton ad was more widely mocked than it was controversial. And in the long run it will do more to benefit the brand than hurt it. Aviation Gin was savvy in piggybacking on the buzz and turning around a response ASAP, and it should earn them some brand awareness. But this was hardly turning lemons into lemonade.

Bill Hanifin
BrainTrust

Aviation Gin did a smart thing in its opportunistic video. Why not have some fun with the Peloton controversy? It also probably helped the career of Ms. Ruiz who gained recognition and may benefit from being a sympathetic figure.

As a longtime endurance sport athlete, I might desire a Peloton to meet certain needs and if my spouse surprised me with the bike as a gift, I would receive it as her supporting my fitness goals. I would not have been offended by the gift.

In my view, Peloton poorly produced the ad making it overly dramatic and silly. That opened the door to the criticism. If they had told the brief story in another manner, they could have produced an inspiring ad, the likes of which can be found from Nike and others.

James Tenser
BrainTrust

When Peleton was introduced a few years ago as a sponsor of the Tour de France broadcasts, it was positioned toward hyper-competitive amateur athletes (mainly, but not exclusively male).

The recent ad tried to position it as a luxury gift purchase. First mistake. It came across not as thoughtful, but as manipulative. A “50 Shades of Gray” moment, if you will. Only with different equipment.

The Twitterverse reacted emotionally, creating a perfect opening for Aviation Gin (or any other brand that could jump fastest).

Kudos to Ryan Reynolds and his team, who leveraged a unique social media opportunity to build their niche brand, with just a few paid media placements. I think in the process they may even have helped Peleton patch up its image slightly.

Biggest winner: the actress Monica Ruiz, who got paid twice and viewed a whole lot by the public, without sacrificing her dignity.

Brian Cluster
BrainTrust

This was a case of a loud vocal small minority voicing their disapproval of the ad while the majority of us including Gene Detroyer and other commentators here left scratching their heads.

All of us in the industry are numbers-based professionals. So a survey came out from YouGov on this topic (survey source here) based on over 2,200 adults and it showed that five times more adults would be pleased than insulted if they received a fitness-related gift (38 percent vs. 7 percent).

The controversy will subside and Peloton will ultimately benefit by bringing higher awareness of the premium segment of stationary bikes and their services.

Phil Rubin
BrainTrust
1 month 13 days ago

Long Aviation Gin (never heard of it before) and short Peloton. Two smart strategies, one smart execution.

Scott Benedict
Guest

A genius move by Ryan Reynolds and Aviation Gin; that said, Peloton did nothing wrong here, in my view.

Cate Trotter
BrainTrust

Aviation Gin saw a great opportunity and took it. This is the new norm in this fast moving world. The whole world was talking about Peloton so Aviation tapped into that in a smart way that reflected, and in turn boosted, its own brand. I think it shows why brands need to know themselves and what they stand for in the same way that perhaps Peloton didn’t think about with their own ad.

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust

This was a brilliant move by Aviation Gin, and Ryan Reynolds’ Tweet was just icing on the viral cake. They didn’t just make lemonade out of Peloton’s lemons, they made gold. It would be great to see what impact this has on their gin sales, but if nothing else, their brand name is now top of mind the world over and unlikely to fade away quickly.

Peloton, on the other hand, clearly missed the mark with this ad.

While they’ll still get the brand awareness out of it, overall the negative emotional response the ad is generating is not going to help their public image. While it’s clearly impacted their market cap, it’s not clear how this will hurt sales. At the end of the day, Peloton was trying to target a new customer segment with that ad — and they missed. Their core customer demographics may likely ignore the ad and buy one anyway.

Harley Feldman
BrainTrust

People criticizing the Peloton commercial have too much time on their hands. The commercial is well done and the controversy should never have occurred. Aviation Gin is taking advantage of the controversy to their credit.

Allison McGuire
BrainTrust

This is another example of why we need diversity in every part of a business. If women had been part of the script writing process and had the power to reject this story line, this commercial never would have been made. Why not have two women on their daily walk talking about running a 10k next year, then show them buying and working out on the Peloton bike and achieving their goals? Far more inspirational than this one. And Aviation Gin swooped in to take advantage of the mishap. I can’t blame them for injecting a little humor into the situation while promoting their gin. And it’s on brand with Ryan Reynolds as the face of the label. I think it was an exceptional response!

Allison McGuire
BrainTrust

This is another example of why we need diversity in every part of a business. If women had been part of the script-writing process and had the power to reject this store line, this commercial never would have been made. Why not have the couple on a leisurely bike ride talk about aspirations of riding in a race the next year, then show them working out on the Peleton bike to achieve their goals? Far more inspirational than this commercial. And Aviation Gin swooped in to take advantage of the mishap. I can’t blame them for injecting a little humor into the situation while promoting their gin. And it’s on brand with Ryan Reynolds as the face of the label. I think it was an exceptional response.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"What a smart move to bring itself to the top of mind for consumers – it will be interesting to see what kind of effect this ad has on Aviation Gin sales."
"The response to the Peloton ad highlights the real effects of Twitter mob reaction and the need for brands to apply the woke lens."
"In my view, Peloton poorly produced the ad making it overly dramatic and silly. That opened the door to the criticism."

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