Latina Actress At the Center of the Viral Peloton Ad Says She is Finding “Humor” In The Situation
It’s not every day that you see an ad for an exercise bike taking the world by storm, but this viral commercial for Peloton did just that.
Three weeks ago Peloton, the company that is well known for being an fitness empire and a media juggernaut that was being touted as the “Apple of Fitness”, posted a Holiday ad for the cult-favorite bike to Youtube. The ad seemed innocuous enough: the 30-second spot followed the fitness journey of a young wife and mother who is gifted a Peloton bike for Christmas by her husband.
As the woman’s fitness journey continues, we see her documenting her daily workouts for her husband to watch. She congratulates herself for working out “five days in a row”, asking her husband if he’s “surprised”. We see her getting up at 6am to hop on the bike, lamenting her early wake-up call. At the end of the spot, we see the young mom watching the footage with her husband in the present. “A year ago, I didn’t know how much this would change me”, she says to the camera. In the present, we see the wife looking looking nervous and fidgety as she watches her husband watch the footage. Some viewers interpreted her behavior as if she were working out for her husband’s for approval.
A few weeks after the commercial was posted to Youtube, the ad went viral–and not for the brand’s intended purpose.
Critics immediately called out the ad for what they perceived as its sexist messaging. Not only that, some viewers interpreted Ruiz’s face throughout the advertisement as “terrified”. As one Twitter user put it, the ad tells the tone-deaf story of a “thin, gorgeous woman transforming into a still-thin, still-gorgeous woman who’s terrified her husband won’t think she’s grateful”.
After the ad seemed to take over the internet over the weekend, the identity of the “Peloton Wife” actress was finally revealed to be Monica Ruiz, a California-based actress of Latina descent. Ruiz, for her part, seems to be rather rattled by all of the negative attention aimed at the ad.
In a statement to People magazine, she called the Peloton team “lovely to work with” and said she was “grateful” for the job opportunity. As for the the backlash, she seems to be surprised by it. “Although I’m an actress, I am not quite comfortable being in spotlight,” she said to People. “So to say I was shocked and overwhelmed by the attention this week (especially the negative) is an understatement”.
In a hilarious turn of events, Ryan Reynolds recruited Ruiz to star in a commercial for his company, Aviation Gin. The catch? She’s playing the same character as in the Peloton commercial.
— Ryan Reynolds (@VancityReynolds) December 7, 2019
In a spot titled “The Gift that Doesn’t Give Back”, Ruiz is seen at a bar surrounded by two girlfriends. They look at her warily as she stares off into the distance, nursing a martini. They tell her she’s “safe here” and that she “looks great”. Ruiz, ostensibly traumatized by her husband’s controlling behavior, can only say that the gin is “really smooth” before chugging her cocktail as well as her friend’s.
Naturally, the Aviation Gin ad went over like gangbusters on social media, with viewers calling it “genius” and “brilliant”. As for Ruiz, she seems to be much more at peace with the entire Peloton debacle. “When Ryan and his production team called about Aviation Gin, they helped me find some humor in the situation,” she told People. “I am grateful to both Peloton and now Aviation Gin for the work and giving me the opportunity to do what I love to do”.
Of course, since the ad originally went viral on Twitter, there are no shortage of Tweets riffing on the bizarre saga of the Peloton commercial.
Honestly, you could spend hours scrolling through hilarious memes and #hottakes centered around this one 30-second commercial. Something tells us Peloton didn’t intend this sort of reaction when they were brainstorming this ad.
This person summed up the weird vibe of the commercial perfectly:
I'm sure peloton is a great company and bike, but the lady's face and furrowed brow, as if she's flat-out terrified and eager to please, and the selfie vlog thing was just…weird.
— Carolyn Kantosky ✌💙🌻 (@CarolKantosky33) December 5, 2019
There’s something off-putting about how she seems to be embarking on this year-long fitness journey to please her husband.
This Twitter user had to explain why people were so irritated at the tone-deaf commercial:
i will try. the commercial is ridiculous. a beautiful thin woman looks terrified to try a Peloton. why? is she afraid her husband read her mind and knows she hates it. i’m guessing the creative team at the agency is a bunch of dudes! did this go through market research? https://t.co/lM6ug6OEwV
— Pamela (@pain_prejudice) December 6, 2019
It’s definitely the subtext of the ad that rubs people the wrong way.
This Latina didn’t really understand the outrage
I finally watched that Pelotón commercial. Maybe I missed something, but I saw… nothing wrong with it? She seemed psyched about it.
Did it occur to the haters that she LIKES cycling and is doing it for herself and not her husband? Or that her fitness goal isn’t to get skinny?
— Paola Mata (@PaolaNotPaolo) December 8, 2019
It’s definitely true that a lot of people workout to feel strong and healthy–their appearance has nothing to do with it.
This person was highly complimentary of Ruiz’s acting skills
I'm kind of obsessed with this opening shot and the dozen or so different emotions readable in Monica Ruiz's face. It's maybe the best use of extreme close-up since Tak Fujimoto shot THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. #AviationGin pic.twitter.com/EvKSt2Q610
— Brent Shepherd (@ShepcatZero) December 8, 2019
We definitely agree. If commercials had their own Oscars, we think there’d be no contest.