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can we talk about actually why the peloton ad is so bad? the answer isn’t sexism, or that it’s hard to convey an inner journey in an ad

the problem is copywriting

first, if you haven't watched it: go watch it.

it opens on a winter scene, pretty lady in PJs with her kid, covering her own eyes. IT'S A PRESENT STORY


scene switch… pretty lady in exercise outfit, on the bike, holding her phone

[background: another, very similar female voice screaming "GIVE IT UP FOR OUR FIRST TIME RIDERS"]

perspective switch… her anguished face

"i'm a little nervous, but excited"
this is where people think it goes off the rails:

🙈 why is she so scared?
🙈 why is she so filming herself?

but that's not WHY it's so disturbing. it's disturbing because…………

who are we?
we see her from the outside.

we watch her get the present.

we watch her get on the bike.

we watch the video she filmed.

but… who are we?

the scriptwriters actually wrote OUR PERSPECTIVE to be the husband's perspective.

all her work… is for us.
the perspective continues to be confused…

🤪 we watch the world's SADDEST montage (iPhone)
🙈 wait actually it's on the TV
😩 wait… she's looking at… the husband… us…??

consistency of perspective is like, BASIC STUFF
the story isn't a PERSONAL JOURNEY

she does not CHANGE

she does not OVERCOME

she does make a lot of facial expressions at us/the husband stand-in.

the "star" of the commercial, who it's ALL FOR, is the passive buyer of the product. not the user.
the peloton ad is a lot like first person perspective porn.

we get turned into a character we didn't ask for,
looking at out a world that isn't ours,
being pandered to in a way that feels super gross
you can absolutely make an inner journey visible. you can focus on kinda "weird" "not very impressive" physical activity and make it seem heroic. and you can even do it in an ad. nike is great at this.

example with a woman fencer:
basic rules for copywriting:

who's it for?
what do they want?
how does the product deliver that?

good copywriting makes the reader the star… the hero of their own journey. not the product.

and definitely not a weird, mute, gift-purchaser stand-in like peloton did.
when you write a novel, you have to pick your perspective:

first person
second person
third person
third person omnicient

same for tv scripts, and there's a reason it's almost never "second person" (you). but that's what peloton picked.
if the lady in the peloton ad made that face AT THE PELOTON and said "i'm kinda scared… but i'm gonna do it" — we wouldn't be talking about how gross it is

it's gross because
we feel gross because
she made that scared face AT US
if they did a voiceover… "i always had excuses…"

unpacking the peloton, setting it up, cringing at the first exercise, slapping the 6am clock even while she was rubbing her hair and yawned, and at the end she said:

"i did it."

that would have been a winner.
anyway the whole thing is an incoherent mess… that terrible, confused, multi-perspective copy would never have passed muster in my class. hah.

there are gift commercials that aren’t creepy. the car ones? silly but not offensive.

the peloton ad is deeply unsettling bc of the choices i outlined

& they paid the price

the core of the ad is clearly meant to be a traditional Personal Journey. the woman is the actual star (she gets all the airtime).

the husband… watches. a passive voyeur, not the star.

"my soundcloud" is writing pissed yet useful screeds about copy, marketing and business… and… yeah i do that on my newsletter as well.

addendum: i don’t think you could tell, reading the script, that this ad would be SO bad.

the creepiness isn’t in the text, it’s in the subtext. the framing, the point of view, the timing

just like how someone recut Mary Poppins like a horror movie
to the folks sayin “wow ur overthinking it it’s a commercial lol”:

all human work deserves criticism — meaning the analytical kind:

🤔 does it work?
🤔 how?
🤔 why?
🤔 what choices did they make?
🤔 what’s the outcome?


1. understanding
2. improvement
3. society
i would be delighted to turn this into a piece for a publication — just putting it out there.
soooooooooooooooo @VancityReynolds actually cast the scared peloton lady in a gin commercial just to prove it wasn’t her fault, it was the writing and direction? and referenced the peloton timeline?

that is next level

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