As It Happens

Woman in viral ad will always be known as 'the Peloton girl,' says fellow actor

Julie Alexandria, who once auditioned for a Peloton ad but didn't get it, says she's worried about the actress in a new viral exercise bike ad.

Julie Alexandria says she auditioned for a 'creepy' Peloton ad of her own, but didn't get the part

Peloton's newest ad campaign for its internet-connected spin class bikes has been decried as creepy, sexist and dystopian. (Peloton/YouTube)
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Transcript

Creepy. Sexist. Dystopian. Those aren't the rave reviews you want if you're trying to sell exercise bikes.

But that's the response the company Peloton is getting after putting out its newest ad campaign for its exercise bikes than allow users to take internet-connected spin classes.

The 30-second ad shows a montage of selfie-filmed clips of a woman talking to her phone, documenting how her partner's gift of a Peloton bike has changed her life. At the end, you see the couple sitting together watching the video.

Since the Peloton ad was released, the backlash has been so severe that the company's stock has taken a dive, reports Business Insider.

"Our holiday spot was created to celebrate that fitness and wellness journey. 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," the company said in a statement.

Julie Alexandria is a California-based actor, sports reporter and TV host who had her own eyebrow-raising experience auditioning for a Peloton ad. She spoke to As It Happens host Carol Off about the reaction to the commercial. Here is part of their conversation. 

What did you think when you first saw that Peloton ad? 

I thought it was so cringey.

It struck me right away that something was just off. First of all, the emotions of having tears in your eyes about a first ride on a stationary bike that's in your home is just a little obtuse.

I just thought it was a little bit much — the whole thing. 


She's very fit, obviously. But she's so grateful to this husband who would give her this gift. What do you make of that?

I think this sort of preys upon a lot of women's insecurity when it comes to physical appearance. And someone gives you a gift that sort of implies productive weight loss, I think is a little bit strange. 

But, who knows? Maybe the backstory is that she really wanted to get in shape. But wait, she's already in shape. So that part was a little bit strange.

But then would it have been worse if she wasn't in shape? I don't know. 

I think the strangest part of it was at the end when they're both sitting on the couch watching her journey and she's looking at him for just desperate approval in her eyes — like, "See, see what I did?"

That's what struck me as so awkward. Like, why did she need her husband's validation to say that you've done a good job? I don't know. It just seemed off, the whole thing. 

You mentioned her eyes because that has been a big discussion. She does look desperate, doesn't she? … One person tweeted, "The lady in the Peloton ad has perpetually sad eyebrows." Did you notice that as well? 

I did. You know, I would say that this is probably, this actress, was a victim of bad direction.

You've had your own awkward experience with Peloton ads. You auditioned for a different one. Can you tell us about that? 

When I was an actor in New York City, this was just a few years ago, it was actually the first Peloton ad that had come out. So it was 2015 and no one knew what a Peloton was. 

I got down to the very last producer callbacks, which is when they have all the big-wigs in the room. It came down to myself and two other women.

And the one thing that we noticed was that we — the women, the females in the room — were all very young and in our sort of early- to mid-20s.

And the men that they had chosen to pair us up with, because it was a husband-and-wife commercial … the men were all old and really not attractive.

I mean, do they specialize in creepy commercials? 

It was definitely a little creepy. But then you think, well, who's their audience? Who are they trying to speak to?

This is an exercise bike that costs upwards of $2,500 ... just for the basic model. So who can really afford that? Is it older guys with younger trophy wives, maybe? 

So in that respect, I guess they were doing a good job.

I obviously did not get the role and I'm completely OK with that. But it was definitely an interesting moment where the other actresses and myself kind of looked around the room, like, "Are they serious?" It was a little awkward. 

Julie Alexandria is an actor, sports reporter and TV host who used to act in commercials. (Submitted by Julie Alexandria)

So you didn't get that role and you didn't, I guess, audition for this latest one to have perpetually sad eyebrows in a commercial?

No. My commercial TV career is no longer. ... I sort of crossed over into the world of sports.

But, you know, commercial acting is the toughest acting that there is out there, because you have to convey what it takes actors in movies over the course of two hours. You have to convey that in 60, sometimes 30 seconds.

I feel for the actress so much in particular because this ad, if Peloton doesn't pull it ... could have a financial impact on her personally.

You know, she's always going to be known as the Peloton girl. 

Do you think it's already too late for her?

Oh gosh, no. I don't want to say that. … I hope that she has a wonderful career ahead of her.

But I do think that going into the room, or as they call it, you know, going into the casting room, they will recognize her from this ad because, I mean, it essentially went viral.

Was she miscast? Was she badly directed? What do you think went wrong for this ad and for her?

I think she was poorly directed. I think the emotions were way over the top. I think that they did not really fit the commercial. But that's not her fault.   

Peloton is defending their ad. It says that people are misrepresenting the commercial that it is just meant to show how users' lives have been positively impacted by their bikes. So what do you make of that? 

Good for Peloton, I guess, for defending themselves. And I guess I take that to mean, good for her — the actress — because she'll still get her residual cheques.

Because at the end of the day, that would be the worst thing. If they pulled the ad and then admitted defeat, then she wouldn't get paid and the rest of the actors wouldn't get paid.

So for that, I'm happy that they're defending it. But at the same time, I guarantee you they will rebrand it and come January they'll come out with another ad that will be all about real people who are having weight struggles and who are actually having real journeys.

I think that's the biggest issue that I take with the ad, is that it didn't feel real. It didn't feel genuine. It was like, "I'm this perfect girl. And I live this perfect life. And Peloton is going to make me even more perfect." 


Written by Chris Harbord and Sheena Goodyear with files from Katie Geleff. Interview produced by Katie Geleff. Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.

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