Spin class is paying to pedal a stationary bike while somebody yells at you
Peloton is a company that will sell you a stationary bicycle and yell at you in your home. They recently ran an ad which caused many to bristle. In it, a man gives his wife a Peloton machine for Christmas.
Let’s just say it didn’t go well:
Peloton loses $1.5bn in value over ‘dystopian, sexist’ exercise bike adThe Guardian
Could this have been avoided?
Filming an ad like this is an expensive endeavour. You need an aspirational house, an actor and actress to play the aspirational husband and wife, a film crew, etc etc. Even if it were cost effective to film multiple ads (one of which would presumably have been better received), your worst example will be downloaded and made viral anyway, so how can Peloton succeeded?
Empathy and iteration
Design Thinking is the opposite of hubris. Whenever you see a huge fiasco, chances are somebody thought they had a great idea and ran with it without checking in with the intended audience.
There are spin classes being run at gyms every day. How hard would it have been to assemble some of them in a room and ask them what they love about spin class and what they wish they could change? I’d wager at least half of them would say something along the lines of “I love spin class but hate digging my car out of the snow afterwards”.
Film an ad with a woman doing that often enough and then coming home to a shiny bike in the living room and the result is a tearjerker – I’d rather you were home safe and warm and still do what you love – Merry Christmas. (Of course that’s just my opinion. If I were in charge, I’d still validate before running the ad.)
Design Thinking would let the ad planners try different versions of the ad in simple storyboards and keep gathering insights and responding with new draft storyboards until they get their message nailed down – then film the ad.
The same lesson every time
The lesson here is that empathy and iteration can prevent a billion dollars worth of heartache. That’s Design Thinking.