It seems everyone has an opinion on what went wrong with Peloton’s holiday ad. But on Thursday, the actress in the widely mocked spot shared her view.
“Honestly, I think it was just my face ... my eyebrows looked worried, I guess,” Monica Ruiz said during an appearance on NBC's "Today" show. During an interview with Hoda Kotb, Ruiz, a mother of two, came off as likeable and as taking everything in stride. “It was my face, that was the problem and it just exploded from there,” she continued, while laughing and giving her take on the widespread reaction to the ad. “‘She looks worried’ and I’m like, oh no, my eyebrows, they moved.”
The ad, by Mekanism, portrays a husband gifting the exercise bike to his wife for Christmas. She then uses a video diary to document her exercise experience. Critics said it was sexist, with some complaining that the woman in the spot was already quite fit, and that it suggested the husband was pressuring her to be more trim.
Aviation Gin seized on the controversy, releasing a spoof ad last weekend that starred Ruiz. She is shown drinking the gin with friends, looking a little traumatized, presumably from the Peloton experience. (Peloton is not mentioned in the Aviation ad, but the inference is clear.)
Ryan Reynolds, who holds an ownership stake in Aviation, joined Ruiz during the “Today” interview. Reynolds said the Peloton ad crossed his radar after George Dewey, president of Reynolds’ production company, Maximum Effort Productions, sent him the spot. Reynolds said he suggested sending Ruiz a year’s supply of gin, and it “evolved from there.”
“We love acknowledging and playing with the cultural landscape and we thought this was a great opportunity,” Reynolds said. “You see how everything is sort of divisive these days—one camp here one camp there,” he added. “We could do this ad without contributing to that divide, without really vilifying anybody, just sort of commenting on both the person and the actress in the ad, all at once.”
“It was a rush,” he added. “We did this thing in 36 hours.”
Ruiz at first did not agree to be in the gin ad. “I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t think so,’ I think that it’s going to look like I am making fun of it,” she said in the “Today” interview, noting that “I had such an amazing experience when I shot the Peloton commercial.” But Aviation “assured me that it was an idea that was taking air out of the situation.”
Originally, she tried to stay out of the limelight and wait for the controversy to blow over. But when the backlash persisted, she decided to come forward. “I will just let everyone know I am fine. I am not in a rehab for mental health anywhere,” she joked.
To be sure, the incident has made her famous, at least for now, which could prove to be a very good thing for her acting career. “I hope that people can just see me as an actress—because that is what I am. I like to do movies and TV and commercials,” she said. “I hope people can remember that I am not actually the Peloton Lady and let me work other jobs.”