Are Peleton’s Wildly Expensive Newspaper Ads an Exercise in Futility?

Well the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

There I was, minding my own business and slogging through the Sunday New York Times (there really should be a federal subsidy for that, don’t you think?) when I came across this half-page ad.

That was followed by two more half-page Peloton ads and a full-page one – all in the Times A section, which on Sunday is the Ritz Carlton of advertising venues.

Here’s the thing, Doc: A woman I know – smart, well-read, beautiful – saw one of Peleton’s ads in the Times and this is all that registered with her.

Do Peloton’s ad people have any idea how real people see advertisements? I have my doubts.

– Peletone-Deaf?

Dear Peletone-Deaf,

For those of you keeping score at home, here are the other Peleton ads in Sunday’s Times.

A similar quartet of ads ran in Saturday’s Times and the Weekend Wall Street Journal.

As Phoebe Bain wrote in Marketing Brew earlier this month, “Between high supply and low customer acquisition, the brand’s marketing department is ‘under pressure to deliver,’ per Ad Age. Experts told the pub that fewer pricey campaigns and more investment in brand loyalists could be the company’s best plan of attack.”

Coincidentally, Monday’s Times featured an interview with new Peleton CEO Barry McCarthy – conducted by the paper’s DealBook macher Andrew Ross Sorkin and reporter Lauren Hirsch – in which McCarthy, the former chief financial officer of Spotify and Netflix, predictably came across as ten pounds of bravado in a five-pound bag.

As for the Peleton print ads, Peter Adams at Marketing Dive reported that “Peloton is pushing a new advertising campaign that includes testimonials from customers who were initially skeptical of the connected fitness brand but have since become loyal converts.”

Peloton’s latest ad campaign isn’t subtle. The marketer is throwing a spotlight on customers who have doubted it in the past but are now devoted to fitness regimens run through its connected bike and treadmill products. The implication is that Peloton will be able to weather its current headwinds based on its ability to foster long-term loyalty. Its services now wield about 6.6 million subscribers.

“This campaign is leading with the unvarnished voices of our members at a time of heightened skepticism because nothing is sharper than the truth,” said Dara Treseder, chief marketing officer of Peloton, in a press statement.

Those unvarnished voices, however, are not unanimous, as the Marketing Dive piece noted.

Posts on social media go deeper in profiling individual users who improved their lives thanks to Peloton. But digging into the comments reveals plenty of frustrated customers as well. Several Instagram users took the campaign as an opportunity to complain about no-show deliveries, issues with scheduling repairs on bikes and other technical issues — potential signs of the marketer’s broader operational issues.

Sounds like Peleton’s print campaign might turn out to be an overpriced coat rack.

Ride on . . .

One comment on “Are Peleton’s Wildly Expensive Newspaper Ads an Exercise in Futility?

  1. […] my way through the Sunday New York Times (an activity that the extremely sage Dr. Ads says should trigger a federal subsidy) when I came across this full-page ad in the Arts & Leisure […]


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