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The Internet is having a field day with Peloton’s silly holiday ad. But underneath the barbs is an interesting question: How do ads like this pass through so many layers of approval, by so many talented stakeholders, and still get the green light? Wouldn’t someone call an audible along the way and demand changes? Ironically, audibles are what likely caused the mess in the first place. Below is a short, Peloton-inspired play that reflects a common story in the world of creative marketing.

Scene 1:

Brian: Hey, we need an ad for the holidays. Let’s make it Christmas-themed. A wife gives her husband a Peloton as a gift.

Cheryl: Perfect. Let’s make the husband a fitness buff who is tired of trekking out to the gym and can now work out on his own schedule.

Brian: This will be our best ad yet!

Scene 2:

Juan enters the room.

Juan: I love the concept, but we want to target people who are new to fitness. We do a good enough job with the health buffs. Can you rework? Thanks.

Cheryl: Got it boss!


Brian: Instead of a fitness buff, let’s make the husband overweight. Then he uses the Peloton and transforms into a stud.

Cheryl: Makes sense. People love transformation stories.


Juan: I approve the ad.

Scene 3: 

Owen enters the room.

Owen: Hey, your concept is perfect, but I have one microscopic, minor tweak. Most of our customers are women, so let’s make the husband gift the Peloton to his wife. You can keep everything else the same.

Brian: Okay!


Cheryl: We can’t show a husband giving his overweight wife an exercise bike as a gift. That would look terrible.

Brian: You’re right. Let’s make her already fit then.

Cheryl: But what about her transformation story?

Brian: Damn. Uh…let’s make it about transforming her confidence.

Cheryl: How on earth will we communicate confidence in a TV spot?

Brian: We’ll make her look really, really scared in the beginning.


Owen: I approve the ad.

Scene 4: 

Mina enters the room.

Mina: I don’t want to mess up the great work you’ve done, but can we make the wife a social media influencer too? Instagram stories is hot, we need to ride that trend!

Brian: I guess…


Cheryl: I got it, I think. So the wife records every step of her fitness journey along the way. She’s always taking selfie videos and recording her workouts.

Brian: But if she’s an influencer, doesn’t that mess up her confidence transformation?

Cheryl: *sigh*


Mina: I approve the ad.

Scene 5: 

Arianna enters the scene.

Arianna: Something’s bothering me about the ad: its ending. We need a big, grand finale ending. How about the wife plays all her videos back to her husband a year later and looks into the camera and thanks us for changing her life.

Cheryl: Whatever, I stopped caring two scenes ago.

Brian: Me too. Let’s grab a drink and hope the next project turns out better.

Adam Ghahramani is an independent consultant and contributor to VentureBeat. He has worked with a dozen blockchain startups, including Vinsent, which is tokenizing wine futures. He is also the recent co-creator of ICICLES, an ice breaker card game. Find him at

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