In the “Sex in the City” spinoff premiere episode of HBO Max's highly anticipated “And Just Like That,” a major character got a heart attack after an in-studio ride, resulting in death. This wasn’t an approved “product placement” deal by Peloton in the TV show.
Any association with death isn’t good marketing. Then Peloton chimed in, with its own version of things -- a somewhat lighthearted TV commercial with an alternative ending, where "And Just Like That" actor Chris Noth has a starring role. Mr. Big’s character lives on.
Let's back up a second: Research might show it is extremely rare for a spinning cyclist to succumb after a Peloton in-studio ride.
In the real world, Peloton -- on the road, in cycling races -- counts some accidents. That can result in varying degrees of severity for athletes, whereas many tour riders are riding shoulder to shoulder doing at least 30 mph.
Do you hear about heart attacks during the Tour de France after long, arduous rides? Virtually never. However, in 1967, British rider Tom Simpson died of “heart failure” on one of the most famous race Tour climbs, Mont Ventoux. But he was found to have traces of amphetamines in his system.
More marketing bad news for Peloton. Peloton's stock sank 5.4% on Friday, a day after the initial episode of the returning series revealed the news of Mr. Big’s death. But the company stock has already been sinking since the first of the year -- like a massive 74%.
This isn’t because of potential death by spinning. Fitness-focused consumers are going back to health clubs, as COVID-19 issues have abated to an extent, according to analysts. Plus, there have been major safety issues with its Peloton's running treadmill.
For its part, Peloton struck back. Suzanne Steinbaum, a cardiologist/member of the Peloton health and wellness advisory council, a doctor on staff at Peloton, talked up the fact that Mr. Big's character had a history of unhealthy habits, had “an extravagant lifestyle — including cocktails, cigars and big steaks — and was at serious risk, as he had a previous cardiac event in season six.”
Steinbaum adds that his family history -- often a significant factor -- was more likely the cause of his death. “Riding his Peloton Bike may have even helped delay his cardiac event.”
While people are focusing on Peloton, and what it means for the future of the company, is the industry overlooking the obvious? HBO says the show had “the best debut day of any series on HBO Max to date, including both HBO and Max Originals.”
Still, we're only a few days into the show’s run. Let’s see if the show has staying power in the big TV bike race.