Brand Session Volume 7: Peleton, Art Basel, Guerilla Girls, The Weeknd

Watched the Peleton holiday ad and thought, "this is what happens when content and brand haven't met, aren't friends, and don't like each other in the morning." Since the launch of their holiday ad, Peleton’s stock plummeted losing almost $1.6B of the company value.

As of today, the company stands by the ad. If you haven’t seen it, a husband gives his fit wife a Peleton bike for Christmas and after a year, she reflects to camera earnestly, 
“I didn’t realize how this would change me.”

This ad is getting more hate than the Trump’s Grab’em by…2016 video. I thought this was 2019 where we all agree that exercise reduces anxiety, depression, and can extend human shelf life for both the skinny and the fat. We are living in the fresh wound of feminist reparation where we can’t say the word female when we mean woman because it objectifies us and Peleton, with their head in the sand, did not consider that in their creative exploration.

Brands must consider their sphere of influence when developing positioning: 1) how products/services fit into lives of their audience, 2) how that differs from their competitors, and 3) what's happening in the world that makes this piece of content relevant? Strategic fail.

Conceptually, it doesn’t offend me as a woman, it offends me as a creative director because it doesn’t pay off why my fictitious husband might choose this for me. When creatives sit in a room and edit concepts, we ask ourselves “could this product be replaced by another and still work?” if the answer is yes, we start over. They didn’t. 

Peleton is an elite fitness brand. The bike is very expensive at $2,245 plus $39/month. Changing their brand voice to become a sudden, unpretentious, casual brand for the holiday season reeks of inauthenticity. When content strategy and brand strategy are in sync, brands like SoulCycle and Recess enjoy the fruits of their labor while brands like Cadillac, who deigned to create one of the funniest videos I’ve ever seen “Now That’s A Cardiac” created by Kovert, featuring Akwafina and John Mulaney–that may rack up views, but very little conversion. Am I right? My point is that the brand and the content (advertising is content), must be aligned.

With another recent debacle of failing to purchase licensing rights to music played in their catalogued remote classes, Peleton should slash their marketing budget today and reallocate it–to their human resources department.

For those that want to learn more about how content and brand work seamlessly, follow me on LinkedIn or Instagram


Ceci n’est pas une banane: Comedian by Mauricio Cattelan

Ceci n’est pas une banane. That’s what I think of Maurizio Cattelan’s Comedian, the duct taped banana art that sold for $120,000 this weekend at Art Basel–a Dadaist masterpiece. I was at the show so I can confirm it was the “banana heard round the world,” causing debate on whether or not, it was, in fact, art.

Roberta Smith, co-chief art critic of the New York Times (her husband Jerry Saltz is the other co-chief art critic), launched a feminist missive pointing out that “While the art world ODs on testosterone, phallocentricity and stupid people tricks please remember that there’s more than one way to use bananas — and that the Guerrilla Girls have done so for decades.” Smith is referring to the masked troupe that formed in 1985 to protest the underrepresentation of female artists and known to use bananas as part of their protest. They are gorillas, after all. Their most famous poster created in 1989 reads, “Do women have to be naked to get into the Met Museum? Less than 5% of the artists in the Modern Art sections are women, but 85% of the nudes are female.”

Alexandra Chaves of The National, in defense of the banana wrote, “For better or worse, Comedian is art. Whether it is good or bad is a separate discussion. But it is art, in the same way that Duchamp’s toilet, Malevich’s Black Square and Manzoni’s Artist’s Breath are too.”

What do I think? Art is everything and nothing. It’s Henri Matisse and Cattelan. There is art that is simply beautiful and art that goads. And we need goading once in a while so we can dig deep to solidify beliefs. Whether or not you thought it was art, that was the purpose of this gimmick. Praise to Cattelan and Gallerie Perrotin for having a little bit of fun. Lord knows the art world needs it. And praise to the Guerilla Girls for fighting for women in the arts.

Brand Beat: Heartless by The Weeknd

As always, we end Brand Sessions with a song we love that features lyrics with brand mentions. Brands play a huge part in the lives of consumers. Objects (products) can be sentimental and relationships (services) cherished. This week's Brand Beat is Heartless by The Weeknd.