Recently, Peloton created a bunch of negative press with it's new commercial, which shows a wife being gifted an exercise bike by her husband, as well as her year-long documentation of her fitness journey. This ad was deemed "terrifying" and "sexist." Common reasons included the insensitivity of gifting an exercise bike, as if telling the recipient to lose weight. That, in my opinion, is reaching. People have been gifted fitness technology for years - would anyone be upset if Fitbit or the Apple Watch did a similar commercial?
The company also received backlash for the actress already being slim, and the fact that her facial expressions look more "scared" than "motivated." Acting aside, Peloton stands with its commercial, saying "We constantly hear from our members how their lives have been meaningfully and positively impacted after purchasing or being gifted a Peloton Bike or Tread, often in ways that surprise them." However, the damage was done. After this ad aired, or continued to, the company's shares dropped almost 10% - erasing $942 million from its market value.
I am neither defending nor attacking Peloton. In fact, the point of this is not to criticize either the company or even the ad, but rather, revel in how quick something going "viral" over social media, by people who may not ever even have been Peloton consumers or stakeholders, can impact million of dollars within the economy.
Now take Hallmark. Recently, they have also caused controversy by deciding to pull an ad featuring a same-sex couple getting married. The ad created controversy amongst a group called "One Million Moms" - which is a division of the conservative American Family Association. The ad was for Zola, a lesbian dating app - it was pulled for "violating policies" by showing PDA - but Hallmark did not reject a similar ad with a heterosexual couple engaging in the same level of PDA, which was also submitted by Zola. There are much more people in the USA who support gay rights than those who ride or invest in Peloton. Why is Hallmark not receiving the same amount of backlash as Peloton did? Are both cases the results of a non-popular voice deciding what the trends, and occasionally financial liabilies, should be?
As of today, Hallmark flipped-flopped again, saying they made the "wrong decision" and will re-instate the commercial. But once again, this was only done after celebrities and pro-LGBT allies stormed twitter with the #BoycottHallmarkChannel movement. While some are celebrating the news, it creates confusion and distrust in branding when the messaging keeps changing. Either you were always for it, or you gave in, again. Even though both companies were affected and swayed by social media - why was the one representing a cause with more followers, and arguably a more represented issue - not causing monetary impact?