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Peloton responds to backlash over holiday commercial, says it was 'misinterpreted'

Peloton said the commercial was intended to celebrate a "fitness and wellness journey."
/ Source: TODAY

Cycling fitness brand Peloton has responded to the backlash over its new holiday commercial, saying the company is "disappointed in how some have misinterpreted" the 30-second spot.

The ad, which shows a woman's yearlong fitness journey after her husband gives her one of its costly stationary bikes, was widely criticized on social media this week, including by some who said it sent a sexist message. The blowback was so fierce the company's stock price dropped by as much as 10%, Bloomberg reported.

Peloton responded in a statement to CNBC on Wednesday.

“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 company spokesperson told CNBC in an email.

“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.”

Peloton also sent CNBC documents of positive emails it said it had received about the commercial, as well as a Facebook post in support of the spot.

The ad, titled "The Gift That Gives Back," opens with the woman receiving the Peloton bike for Christmas. Later, looking timid in a selfie video, she tells the camera, "First ride. I'm nervous, but excited."

The ad shows the woman pedaling furiously on the bike — which sells for a starting price of $2,245 — in her spacious apartment at 6 a.m. for five days in a row and concludes with her watching her yearlong video diary with her husband.

"A year ago, I didn't realize how much this would change me," she says.

The commercial was first released on Nov. 21, but the furor surrounding it reached a fever pitch on Twitter on Monday. (NBC News’ parent company Comcast is an investor in Peloton.)

Comedian Eva Victor created a profanity-laced parody of the commercial in which she serves her husband with divorce papers at the end. That video has been viewed more than 2 million times.

While it may not be quite on the level of Kendall Jenner stopping a street protest with a Pepsi, or McDonald's using a grieving child to sell a Filet-O-Fish, the commercial has made people want to save the poor "Peloton wife" from her fate of endless bike rides.

NBC News reached out to Peloton for comment but did not receive a response.