'Peloton Husband' addresses backlash over 'sexist' Christmas advert: 'That's not who I am'

‘My five seconds of air time created an array of malicious feedback that is all associated with my face’ 

Chelsea Ritschel
New York
Friday 06 December 2019 23:05
Peloton bike commercial:'The Gift That Gives Back'

The actor who played the husband in Peloton’s recent Christmas ad has addressed the backlash surrounding the controversial commercial.

In the commercial, which went viral this week after it was deemed sexist, a man gifts his wife a Peloton exercise bike for Christmas. The ad then follows the wife’s year-long exercise journey, and ends with her thanking her TV husband for giving her the apparently life-changing gift.

“A year ago, I didn’t realise how much this would change me,” she says at one point.

In addition to accusations of sexism, many called the commercial “out of touch”.

On Thursday, Sean Hunter, an actor and elementary school teacher from Vancouver, Canada, reflected on his role as “Peloton Husband” in an interview with Psychology Today, as well as his hopes that the role does not have long-term impacts on his life.

"I pride myself on being a great teacher and developing actor, and I can only hope that this affects neither. I’m grappling with the negative opinions as none of them have been constructively helpful," Hunter said. “It’s really hard to improve when all feedback goes against any type of growth. I currently sit here hoping that I’ll be able to continue auditioning for commercials without any taint, and that if my students happen to find the commercial and recognise me, they won’t think about me any different than they already know me.”

The actor also attempted to make it clear that he is not the person he portrays in the commercial - a "husband" that has been accused of being both “abusive” and a “symbol of the patriarchy”.

On Friday, Hunter appeared on Good Morning America, where he reiterated that he is not what his image has been associated with.

"People turned down a pretty dark path and it turned into a nasty thing," he said. "Once something goes viral, and it turns negative, people jump on that negative bandwagon and start to create any dialogue they want... My image is being associated with sexism, with the patriarchy, with abuse, with these words that I am seeing people write about me - that’s not who I am."

While Hunter has attempted to distance himself from the identity of “Peloton Husband”, he has at the same time embraced it.

On Instagram, where the actor has changed his username to @Pelotonhusband, he captioned a photo of himself appearing on CTV Vancouver on Friday: “The Peloton Husband speaks out. In his finest shirt too.”

Hunter was not the only one who was surprised by the negative reaction to the ad, as the exercise bike company also expressed disappointment that its ad had been “misinterpreted”.

“We constantly hear from our members how their lives have been meaningfully and positively impacted after purchasing or being gifted a Peloton Bike or Tread, often in ways that surprise them,” a Peloton spokesperson said in a statement to People. “Our holiday spot was created to celebrate that fitness and wellness journey. While we’re disappointed in how some have misinterpreted this commercial, we are encouraged by - and grateful for - the outpouring of support we’ve received from those who understand what we were trying to communicate.”

Following the release of the ad, Peloton’s market value fell by nearly $1.5bn (£1.1bn).

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