Peloton was rocked this week when a leading character in the premiere of HBO Max’s Sex and the City spin-off dies from a heart attack after over-exerting himself during his 1,000th Peleton workout. And it wasn’t just a single product placement. Instead, the show opened with numerous references to Peloton, including the ill-fated character’s obsession with Peloton workouts and a nod to Peleton’s practice of instructors giving a live “shout-out” to riders reaching a milestone number of rides completed. As the character collapses, the signature Peloton bike remains in the shot's foreground.
The unfortunate product placement sent Peloton shares down 18% in the day following the show. According to Buzzfeed, Peloton’s PR team knew in advance that the show would include references to Peloton. But they had no idea that their stationary bike would serve as a murder weapon. Peloton’s spokesperson was aware that “a bike would be used in the episode,” but “due to confidentiality reasons, HBO did not disclose the larger context surrounding the scene to Peloton in advance.”
Now imagine if the situation had only been worse for Peloton. What if, this were on an ad-supported channel and having detected a mention of “Peloton” or other keywords (such as “exercise”, “fitness”, “bike”) in the show, Peloton’s ad server of choice decided to bid on a CTV spot after the character’s death, or any other brand-related to fitness? Not only would the unfavorable product placement be disastrous enough, it would be amplified by Peloton’s own advertising spend. The fallout and ridicule could have been even more severe. As programmatic CTV advertising rises, these types of disasters are looming, particularly in the streaming and CTV space. Further, Peloton’s debacle proves that limiting programmatic CTV buying to premium players does not guarantee brand safety. Or when this clip gets used on social media sites with words like fitness associated with it, it may not be a brand suitable for fitness brands.
Peloton’s headaches underscore the risk to marketers and PR professionals if product placement falls into the wrong hands. As content-creator advertising continues to explode on social media channels such as Tiktok, these types of detrimental brand awareness will only become more frequent and reach more eyes. To manage this rapid growth in external video content and influencers, marketers will need scalable tools to detect product presence within video content as well as contextual nuances to ensure brand safety. Detecting both the content (e.g. “Peloton”) as well as the context (e.g. “exercise, fitness, collapse, death”) in a scalable way will be critical.
At Netra, we are helping marketers contend with the rapid rise of creator-based content. Our technology synthesizes all video content elements to provide unparalleled insights into video context detection and safety. With our technology, marketers and their partners have access to video comprehension and granular-level details on video content, allowing them to improve their quality of advertising spend and find effective content to achieve campaign goals. . We’re making video analysis efficient, scalable, and inexpensive, which will be critical in this rapidly advancing CTV market.