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Peloton says encouraged by some support despite Christmas ad criticism

Peloton says encouraged by some support despite Christmas ad criticism
An actor is pictured in this screengrab from "The Gift That Gives Back" exercise bike commercial by Peloton obtained December 4, 2019. Peloton via REUTERS -
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(Reuters) – Exercise bike maker Peloton Interactive Inc <PTON.O> said on Wednesday it was encouraged by support from some customers and social media users, despite its Christmas ad coming under criticism for being “sexist” and “dystopian”.

Peloton also dropped subscription prices for its fitness video streaming app to $19.49 from $12.99 and extended a free trial period by two weeks. Shares of the company fell about 5% in afternoon trading.

“While we’re disappointed in how some have misinterpreted this commercial, we are encouraged by – and grateful for – the outpouring of support we’ve received from those who understand what we were trying to communicate,” a company spokeswoman told Reuters.

The advertisement, called “The Gift That Gives Back”, shows a woman receiving a Peloton bike as a gift from her husband following which she records her workouts over a year and shares them with him through a video blog.

The 30-second ad sparked a storm on Twitter, with several users pegging it as sexist. Some said the husband was “controlling” and “manipulative” as buying his wife an exercise bike suggested that the she needed to lose weight.

Comedian and writer Jess Dweck compared the advertisement, which has been viewed more than 2 million times on YouTube, with an episode of Netflix’s dystopian anthology series “Black Mirror”.

“This was just a clueless mistake that social media is going to rip you apart over,” said Eric Schiffer, chief executive officer of Patriarch Organization, a Los Angeles-based private-equity firm.

“I don’t think it’s going to create an avalanche of negative implications to revenues.”

Refinitiv’s Eikon Social Media Monitor showed sentiment toward Peloton turned negative on Tuesday, having been firmly positive in the past couple of months.

Founded in 2012, Peloton sells indoor exercise bicycles and offers packages requiring memberships to access live and on-demand classes from home. Its flagship product is a stationary bike priced at over $2,200.

The company’s stock has risen 10% since its initial public offering in September as investors bet on the growing popularity of its bicycles that offer on-demand workout programs.

(Reporting by Ayanti Bera and Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty, Arun Koyyur and Anil D’Silva)

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