Warning: major spoilers follow for episode 1 of And Just Like That.
Sex and the City has returned after a break of 11 years, and the first episode of the new TV show And Just Like That features a prominent production placement of a Peloton bike.
Peloton is a fitness brand that offers home gym equipment with virtual workouts run by instructors via a tablet at the end of an exercise bike or treadmill. The brand is famous for offering expensive high-end workout equipment, so it'd make sense that the characters of And Just Like That would use the exercise bike.
This product placement has a twist though, as it seems the brand was unaware of the context it would be used in the new HBO TV show. Below we'll explain the whole story of the Peloton bike in the show, and what has happened since the episode was initially broadcast.
How does a Peloton bike fit into the plot?
Now we're onto the spoilers: at the end of episode 1 of the new show, long term love interest of the show's lead Carrie Bradshaw, Mr Big, dies. He has a heart attack, and it strikes moments after he finishes a workout on a Peloton bike.
That doesn't paint Peloton's exercise equipment in the best light, and it appears the brand was unaware of the context in which the bike would be used.
Peloton spokesperson Denise Kelly told Buzzfeed News that the brand had given the go-ahead to include the products in the series, but it wasn't clear on the situation surrounding its use.
"HBO procured the Peloton Bike on their own," Kelly said. "Peloton was aware that a Bike would be used in the episode and that Jess King would be portraying a fictional Peloton instructor.
"Due to confidentiality reasons, HBO did not disclose the larger context surrounding the scene to Peloton in advance."
Peloton didn't know that it'd be used in this way, and HBO had even provided its own bike for the scene itself. HBO did contact the brand to ensure it could use the trademark in the episode, though.
The workout instructor featured in the show is called Allegra (it's a plotpoint in the episode), and is played by popular Peloton leader Jess King.
The day after the episode aired, Peloton's share price dipped by $5. It's not clear if this plotline was entirely to blame for that, but it seems to have had a significant impact on the brand.
Now, a new ad from Peloton
Peloton's new Christmas ad is themed around the storyline from And Just Like That. You can watch the advert above, and the short clip resurrects the character of Mr Big for "another ride".
Chris Noth, the actor who played Mr Big, features in the advert in character alongside Jess King who is playing the instructor Allegra. Mr Big, says, "To new beginnings" and looks toward a pair of Peloton bikes.
He then says, “Should we take another ride? Life’s too short not to.”
Actor Ryan Reynolds then has a voiceover part immediately after. The advert was made by Reynolds and his marketing company, Maxmium Effort.
Reynolds says, "And just like that… the world is reminded that regular cycling stimulates and improves your heart, lungs and circulation, reducing your risk of cardiovascular diseases. Cycling strengthens your heart muscles, resting pulse and reduces blood-fat levels."
It finishes with Reynolds saying, "He’s alive.”
It appears that Peloton turned this ad around in record time; the episode in which Mr Big dies was first broadcast in the US on December 9, and the commercial debuted on December 12.
In fact, a representative for Peloton told TechRadar that the advert was made in less than 48 hours.
If Peloton was unaware of the plot lines in the series, this is a remarkable turnaround to build a Christmas marketing campaign, with the ad appearing around 72 hours after the initial broadcast of the show.
Peloton has declined to say whether there was a formal product placement agreement for the show, but the company's statements make it clear it wasn't aware of the context the bike would be featured.
Whether Peloton will take this storyline any further in its marketing materials remains to be seen, but it's one of the most fascinating stories of how product placement can impact real life brands.