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Peloton's reputation tumbles

By Tammy Newman Apr. 7 2022

Quincy Han Art

Controversy surrounding Peloton equipment’s bad reputation was amplified in December, when an episode of the “Sex and the City” reboot “And Just Like That” showed the death of the beloved character Mr. Big while he was exercising on a Peloton bike.

Peloton Interactive began as a fitness company in 2012, when founder John Foley sought a way to bring professional exercise equipment to American homes. With time, their workout bikes grew in popularity and the company flourished.

Misconduct of the product, however, like the scene in “And Just Like That,” raised concerns about the safety of Peloton bikes. In fact, Forbes states this is Peloton’s fifth time facing negative advertising. In May 2021, Peloton recalled some of its treadmills after reports of a child’s death on one. In December 2021, Peloton was featured on an advertisement with Chris Noth (the actor for Mr. Big), who was later accused of sexual assault and therefore killed off in the show. All of these affairs combined led to the public growing wary of the company.

However, experts claim that Peloton equipment is not as dangerous as the media makes it out to be.

According to the New York Times, there have been 120 reports of Peloton pedals breaking along with 16 reports of injuries between July 2013 and May 2016.

However, according to Brian Davis, a professor of sports medicine at University of California Davis, most stationary exercise bikes can be dangerous, and the risks are not exclusive to Peloton models.

Although Peloton approved of its products appearing on “And Just Like That,” the company was unaware of how the bike would be used in the episode. According to the show’s director, Michael Patrick King, the motive behind Big’s death was to illustrate his character as an individual with modern tastes; King claimed that the product placement was not meant to imply that Peloton equipment was unsafe.

However, many still speculate that the episode was a case of negative product placement. Purposefully showcasing a brand in a negative light is very common in the media. For instance, Coca-Cola became controversial after a Coke bottle was shown after the gruesome deaths of American soldiers present in the movie “Pearl Harbor.” Likewise, the tobacco industry purchased 100 keywords from a major search engine, leading users to websites promoting the “minimum-risk” of smoking.

“Product placement definitely affects my perception of brands. For example, the Peloton scene in ‘And Just Like That’ made me more wary of their bikes, even though I knew the media is likely making them look worse than they really are,” Junior Varada Nedungadi said.

Companies often use negative product placement to target other competing companies. Many question the practice’s ethicality due to its detrimental influence on viewers’ opinions of the business.

Nevertheless, companies still resort to using forms of product placement because it increases their profit margins for film companies. Product placement reduces film expenses, enhancing the potential profitability of a movie.

“When companies broadcast brands in a negative way, those brands do not have a way to defend their products. Businesses should avoid using unfair marketing tactics like negative product placement because it fosters toxic competition among brands,” Sophomore Gilina Voon said.

Since January, Peloton has been coping with the backlash from “And Just Like That” by pausing their production of fitness equipment between February and March and may only continue after the controversy settles down.


About the Contributors

Tammy Newman

Staff Writer

Tammy Newman is a junior at Leland High School and a Staff Writer for Journalism. Outside of school, she enjoys spending time with her friends and family as well as reading and writing.

Quincy Han


Quincy is a junior at Leland High School and an artist for The Charger Account. He is just a little guy that likes to play video games and listen to Will Wood.

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