B.C. actor from viral Peloton ad grappling with negative reactions
VANCOUVER -- At first, B.C. actor Sean Hunter was excited to land a role in a commercial for a Peloton exercise bike. Then the ad made its way onto the internet.
“I was getting positive feedback from my friends and family,” said Hunter. “I got feedback from my acting coach. It’s always nice to hear from her.”
But, since it debuted in late November, the commercial has become a viral sensation for all the wrong reasons. It's been called sexist, tone-deaf and even an accidental portrayal of domestic abuse.
When Hunter, who works as a Vancouver teacher, realized the way the ad was being received, his heart sank.
“Once it went viral, it really turned negative and I was getting a lot of feedback. People would make up additional storylines on what was happening,” he said. “And they’re all just made up stories. I just didn’t understand why people would do that.”
Sitting down with CTV Vancouver, Hunter described the experience of working with the cast and crew of the commercial as extremely positive.
But over the last week, the ad exploded online, becoming the subject of increasing mockery and criticism.
The 30-second commercial features Hunter as a husband who gives his wife a Peloton for Christmas. She then records a year's worth of videos journaling her use of the bike, which she describes as a life-changing experience.
Some have criticized the portrayal of a man buying his spouse exercise equipment as body-shaming, though the actor portraying Hunter's wife is fit at the beginning of the ad and doesn't appear to use the bike for weight loss.
Others focused on the wife's facial expressions, which sometimes appear almost worried – leading some social media users to joke that "the husband in the Peloton ad is abusive."
Though it might be a coincidence, the company's stock tumbled nine per cent on Tuesday as reaction to the commercial was spreading online.
Hunter believes there is a target market of fitness-minded couples where either spouse would appreciate receiving something like the high-end exercise bike as a gift.
“I think of my relationship with my girlfriend. I mean, we do fitness together. We’ve gone to the gym together and I think that would be an awesome present,” he said.
Although the ad is generating far more attention than he anticipated and he’s puzzled by it, Hunter acknowledges it might not be all bad, especially if it brings more exposure to his acting career.
Hunter said he's also been thinking about the actor who played his wife, and how she's handling the backlash. For now, he's reflecting on some questions about how to move forward.
“I have big mixed feelings about it, especially with all the negative feedback,” he said. “I didn’t really appreciate it.”