Peloton Pedals Into the (Winter) Olympics With New Campaign

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Too bad for Peloton that cycling is a Summer Olympics sport.

The fitness company this week is starting the largest marketing push in its six-year-history, a campaign that will include TV commercials during the Winter Olympics, live-streamed classes from South Korea and new brand messaging. Rather than focusing on its product, home stationary bikes that live-stream classes to an attached screen, Peloton's new theme of "Better Is in Us" is meant to elevate the brand and what it can do for customers.

Maybe the summer games would have been a better fit, but Peloton marketers felt that the time was right.

"It was important to us for people to understand what Peloton is," says Carolyn Tisch Blodgett, senior VP and head of brand marketing. Many people know Peloton's bike and classes by now, according to Blodgett. "We did want to show an emotional story as well."

A new 60-second ad highlights the emotional strain of a busy, married mother and how her at-home Peloton bike fits into her life. "Most of life is a string of barely noticeable moments—some easy, some tough, all beautiful," says a voiceover. "But every day there's a chance to be stronger, fiercer." The story, along with others in the campaign, came from real tales Peloton owners told the company.

Transitioning to a brand-focused campaign and away from product explanations is a leap Peloton can make now that its status has grown with consumers. When Blodgett started at the New York-based company two years ago, the brand had just started tracking awareness. The results, at near zero percent, were not pretty.

"We knew we had a lot of work to do on the brand side," she says. "It was about building the awareness of the product."

The company worked to improve perception with campaigns such as last spring's product-focused push "Hello Let's Go" and a recent holiday campaign that mixed a product pitch and branding.

Annual revenue is expected to show an increase again when the company's fiscal 2017 concludes March 1, according to Blodgett, and nearly tripled to $170 million in its fiscal 2016. The company now has roughly a million members of its paid video service, a studio in New York and 31 showrooms across the country.

Blodgett declined to disclose how much the company is spending on the new campaign. Peloton spent $21.8 million on measured media in the U.S. in 2016, according to Kantar Media.

Of course, competition is also growing as the cycling craze holds firm. SoulCycle began a new marketing push of its own this year and now sells its own apparel.

"Better Is in Us," which was created with Mekanism, begins Wednesday with digital video advertising. The marketer will also run a mix of 30- and 60-second spots on TV during NBC Universal's Olympics coverage.

As part of the partnership with NBC, Peloton will host classes live-streamed from South Korea during the games.

"Sales are up. Now is the time for a brand piece that speaks more to what we stand for," says Jillian Goger, creative director at Mekanism, which has worked with Peloton for more than a year. "Obviously the Olympics is the perfect backdrop for that message."

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