Peloton has been hit with another branding crisis after a major character in the Season 6 premiere of Showtime’s Billions was depicted having a heart attack after riding one of its bikes, about a month after a similar scene in And Just Like That.
The exercise equipment company is coming off the heels of a troublesome week that saw its stock dip 27% following reports of its plans for productions pauses.
To cap it all off, the brand faced a déjà vu moment after a scene in Sunday’s episode of ‘Billions’ that saw fictional character Mike Wagner, played by David Costabile, nearly suffering the same fate as Chris Noth’s Mr. Big in HBO’s “Sex and the City” sequel.
Wagner is seen in the episode getting off the bike and refuting to other characters that he is having a heart attack, despite describing symptoms like shortness of breath and jaw discomfort.
He is rushed to an ambulance and soon recovers, however, only to make a grand entrance in the next scene and proclaim, ‘I’m not going out like Mr. Big.’
Mike Wagner, played by David Costabile, is seen in the Season 6 premiere of Showtime’s Billions having a heart attack after riding a Peloton bike
Wagner gets off the bike and nearly suffers the same fate as Chris Noth’s Mr. Big in HBO’s “Sex and the City” sequel.
He is rushed to an ambulance and soon recovers, however, only to make a grand entrance in the next scene and proclaim, ‘I’m not going out like Mr. Big’
But Peloton didn’t seem to appreciate the quip, taking to Twitter ahead of Sunday’s on-air premiere to say that the company did not give consent for its brand or equipment to be used in the show.
‘We get TV shows want to include @onepeloton to get people talking, but to be clear, we did *not* agree for our brand or IP to be used on @SHO_Billions or provide any equipment. As the show itself points out, cardio-vascular exercise helps people lead long, happy lives,’ the company tweeted.
The similarity of both Peloton heart attack scenes was apparently a coincidence as ‘Billions’ wrapped production months before And Just Like That aired, the New York Times reported, adding that the line referencing Mr. Big was added in post-production.
That seen, which aired mid-December, saw Carrie Bradshaw’s husband, Mr. Big, slump to the ground and die from a heart attack moments after wrapping up a cycle session.
The scene comes about a month after Chris Noth’s Mr. Big suffered the same fate in HBO’s “Sex and the City” sequel
The company attempted to distance itself from the above scene with its own ad featuring a healthy Mr. Big encouraging viewers to exercise. However, the company pulled the ad after Chris Noth, who plays Mr. Big, was accused of sexual assault
Peloton later retorted that its equipment did not contribute to the fictional character’s death, which it blamed on his cigar-smoking and unhealthy diet.
The company also attempted to distance itself from the scene by a parody ad of its own featuring a healthy Mr. Big encouraging viewers to exercise. But the company retracted the ad after actor Chris Noth, who plays Mr. Big, was accused of sexually assaulting four women.
Noth has denied such allegations, but admitted to having sexual encounters with his first two accusers during his relationship with Tara Wilson, insisting they were ‘consensual.’
Meanwhile, Blackwells Capital, which has a stake of less than 5% in Peloton, is hoping Peloton will fire CEO and co-founder John Foley and consider an acquisition by a larger technology or fitness-oriented companies, people familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal in an article published on Sunday.
Foley and other Peloton insiders have what’s referred to as super-voting Class B shares, which gave them control over 80% of Peloton’s voting power as of Sept. 30, according to a proxy filing, the Wall Street Journal reported. Therefore, Blackwells Capital’s hopes would need to be backed by more lucrative shareholders in order to come to fruition.
Peloton’s CEO John Foley (pictured) has denied halting production of bikes and treadmills after shares in the exercise company dropped 27% on Thursday
The above chart shows where share prices sat at $24.22 on Thursday, when they reached a two-year low
Peloton share prices dropped by 27% to $24.22 on Thursday, a two-year low, after a leaked presentation revealed it has seen a ‘significant reduction’ in demand for the products and it would subsequently halt production.
Foley tried to quash damaging ‘rumors’ that the company was planning to indefinitely stop production of its bikes and treadmills. ‘Rumors that we are halting all production of bikes and Treads are false,’ he said in a statement.
He added that the company had ‘experienced leaks’ this week ‘containing confidential information that have led to a flurry of speculative articles in the press’.
But he said this information was ‘incomplete, out of context and not reflective of Peloton’s strategy’, adding that the leaker had been identified and legal action will be launched.
“As we discussed last quarter, we are taking significant corrective actions to improve our profitability outlook and optimize our costs across the company,” Foley said in a memo to employees, CNBC reported.
The company also announced earlier last week that it is considering closing 20 percent of its showrooms after slashing its full-year outlook by $1 billion
“This includes gross margin improvements, moving to a more variable cost structure, and identifying reductions in our operating expenses as we build a more focused Peloton moving forward.”
CNBC reported that the company planned to pause bike production in February and March and not manufacture the Tread treadmill machine for six weeks, beginning in February.
It had been previously reported that the company is not looking to produce any Tread+ machines in fiscal year 2022 and has thousands of cycles and treadmills lying in warehouses or on cargo ships, though a specific number is not known.
Last May, the company had announced it was building a $400 million warehouse in Ohio to speed up production, but the facility isn’t expected to be ready until 2023. The company has since declined $40 billion in value.
The company has also said that it is considering cutting jobs and will raise prices as demand for its equipment slumps amid record inflation.
The fitness giant has sought help from consulting group McKinsey & Co. to get its finances in order after it slashed its future earnings outlook for 2022 by $1billion last November, down to between $4.4 billion and $4.8 billion.
In a leaked recording of an internal call, management discussed slashing jobs to offset its bleeding bottom line. As of June 30, 2021, Peloton employed 6,743 in the United States across its headquarters, showrooms and warehouses, and more than 1,000 more worldwide.
One executive said 15 of Peloton’s 123 showrooms ‘are on the line’ as the company seeks to trim expenses.
Management during a recent call discussed asking employees at retail stores to take on more responsibilities by manning customer service lines when they’re not busy in the store, CNBC reported.
Peloton is set to release its second-quarter figures on February 8.
In 2020, the company saw a 440 percent increase in shares, but saw it dramatically dropped 76 percent in 2021 as COVID lockdowns ended and gyms reopened.
In December 2020, the company’s stock hit an all-time high of $151.72 after many customers wanted to continue working out from their homes following many brick-and-mortar gyms temporarily closing due to COVID – but that trend has since reversed.
It put the company at a $45.7 billion value, and it couldn’t keep up with pandemic demand, as customers waited months for products.
Once a pandemic darling, Peloton has seen a slump in demand for its fitness classes and equipment as people venture out of their houses to hit gyms again.
The company initially set expectations too high for the third and fourth quarters and had to re-evaluate on December 14, dropping the expected sales on the Bike, Bike+, and Tread ‘significantly,’ according to CNBC.
However, the company’s presentation reportedly does not take into account the upcoming fee change for delivery and setup – which will be between $250 to $350, depending on the product – which will change at the end of the month, CNBC reported.
In addition, the company isn’t getting much traction for its upcoming ‘Project Tiger’ – or formally known as Peloton Guide – a $495 package consisting of strength training products and programs, which has since made the company realize it will face a ‘more challenging post-COVID demand environment.’
Project Tiger was initially set to be released last October, but has been pushed back to February and could be further delayed to April. The company also decreased the original price of $595 by $100.
Like sales, the company saw a decline in subscribers, with only 2.5 million in the last quarter – 161,000 were new users – but it was the lowest growth in two years.
The scandal-ridden company has seen its stock prices change drastically throughout the year as it has found itself embroiled in bad press.
In May last year, the company was forced to recall 125,000 treadmills following reports of multiple injuries and the death of a child in an accident. U.S. regulators are investigating the company over the injuries.
Peloton received 72 additional complaints of adults, kids and pets being pulled under the back of the treadmill, resulting in 29 injuries, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) said.
The safety agency also released a video that showed how a person could become trapped by the device.
In November, it slashed its full-year outlook by up to $1 billion with analysts warning about a tough path was ahead.