Peloton fires back at portrayal in ‘Sex and the City’ with parody ad

By | December 13, 2021

Brody Longo works out on his Peloton exercise bike on April 16, 2021 in Brick, New Jersey.

Michael Loccisano | Getty Images

Peloton wants users to know its at-home fitness equipment can improve one’s physical health — not lead to health complications, which was implied in the reboot of “Sex and the City” on HBO Max.

The company put out a response on its Twitter account on Sunday to a plot in “Sex and the City” that sent shares of the company tumbling last week, piling onto a recent selloff. The stock is down about 75% year-to-date, and it hit a 52-week low of $37.67 on Friday.

(The next part of this story contains a spoiler for the first episode of “And Just Like That…”.)

In the widely shared “Sex and the City” scene,” one of the main characters of “And Just Like That…”, Mr. Big, died from a heart attack after taking a 45-minute Peloton class.

In Peloton’s parody commercial, Jess King — the Peloton instructor who was portrayed in the HBO show — sits down with Mr. Big, played by “Sex and the City” actor Chris Noth, after he gets up from a fall and asks him if he would like to take another class on the Bike.

“I feel great,” Noth says in Peloton’s video. “Shall we take another ride? Life is too short not to.”

Then, a voiceover by actor and director Ryan Reynolds says: “And just like that, the world was reminded that regular cycling stimulates and improves your heart, lungs and circulation. … Cycling strengthens your heart muscles, lowers resting pulse and reduces blood fat levels. He’s alive.”

The whole thing came together in under 48 hours and was filmed in New York City, according to a Peloton spokesperson.

Reynolds also shared the video online on Sunday in a Tweet saying: “Unspoiler alert.”

Peloton Chief Executive Officer John Foley also Tweeted on Sunday, “He’s alive.”

The “Sex and the City” scene comes as Peloton in recent weeks has slashed its full-year forecast and frozen hiring, amid slowing demand for its products. Peloton faces heightened competition from other at-home fitness companies but also from gym chains that are luring previous users back.

Peloton was a huge pandemic beneficiary, as people were stuck at home and looking for ways to maintain healthy habits. Its stock benefited, too, rising more than 440% in 2020.

Now, however, investors worry that future growth will be much harder to come by and will entail greater costs.

Peloton has faced other troubles in recent months, including regulatory scrutiny. The company announced a voluntary recall of its treadmills in May, after reports of one death and dozens of injuries. It also reduced the price of its original Bike by hundreds of dollars, hoping to appeal to more people at a discount.

While Peloton said it coordinated with HBO on the placement of one of its Bikes in “And Just Like That…”, it said the network didn’t disclose the plot in advance because of “confidentiality reasons.”

An HBO spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

BMO Capital Markets analyst Simeon Siegel, who put out a note to clients last week saying the portrayal in “Sex and the City” could point to potential trouble with brand, said that tapping Reynolds to help with a response video was a smart move. (Reynolds previously snagged the actress in the infamous “Peloton Wife” commercial to star in an ad for his Aviation Gin brand.)

“One, who doesn’t love Reynolds,” Siegel said. “Better to have Ryan on Team Peloton rather than against.”

However, Siegel said he wonders how much the company shelled out to pull the production together so quickly.

“Either way, it is worth understanding how much a Reynolds-Chris Noth commercial costs,” he said.

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