Peloton can’t seem to get away from the publicity headaches caused by TV shows featuring its products. According to The New York Times and The Verge, the Billions season six premiere episode includes a scene that, like the Sex and the City follow-up And Just Like That, paints Peloton’s Bike in a less-than-flattering light albeit not quite as direly as before.
Mike “Wags” Wagner (played by David Costabile) suffers a heart attack while riding his Peloton spin bike in the scene. Wagner, on the other hand, survives he even refers to the AJLT scene, telling staff that he’s “not going out” like that character.
The executive producers of Billions told The New York Times that the scene was shot in spring 2021, months before the premiere of AJLT and that the team overdubbed the reference to the other show in postproduction to reflect “what Wags would say.”
In a statement, Peloton stressed that it had not provided the Bike or otherwise authorized the use of its brand for Billions. It even praised portions of the episode, noting that it emphasized the “strong benefits” of a cardio workout.
When the AJLT scene caused a commotion, Peloton criticized the character’s lifestyle and suggested that the bike at the very least postponed the inevitable. In response, it created a commercial to defend its products, but it quickly pulled the commercial when the star of the commercial, actor Chris Noth, was accused of sexual assault.
The Billions scene isn’t Peloton’s most recent public relations disaster. The stock price of the company plummeted following a (later denied) claim that it had halted production due to slowing sales.
It does, however, highlight Peloton’s peculiar position. While its fitness equipment remains iconic, the company is no longer as well-liked by consumers or the entertainment industry.
Here is Peloton’s full statement, “We get why these fictional TV shows would want to include a brand that people love to talk about, but Showtime’s use of Peloton’s Bike+ and reference to a Peloton Instructor was not a brand, product, or instructor placement.
“And we did not agree for our brand and IP to be used on this show or provide any equipment. As referenced by the show itself, there are strong benefits of cardio-vascular exercise to help people lead long, happy lives.”