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When Time is On Your Side: How Aviation Gin’s Quick Turnaround Won the Week

By now almost everyone has seen the “controversial” Peloton commercial that caused more than a small uproar online and cost the company millions of dollars in stock valuation. All because of one 30-second spot and a questionable approach to storytelling. Why that spot didn’t work has been covered by a ton of articles…and just about every user on Twitter, so I don’t think we need to spend any more time rehashing those opinions. 

The real story that I found most interesting though is how Aviation Gin (owned by Hollywood star Ryan Reynolds) capitalized on the backlash and created a fun, memorable video that unlike the Peloton ad starring the same actress, Monica Ruiz, has been widely proclaimed an advertising and marketing winner and has picked up hundreds of thousands of favorites on social media.  If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out here.

There are a few takeaways from this piece that I think are especially effective. First off, the idea obviously is a good one and their approach to it couldn’t have been better done.  Hinting at the controversy in a fun way, while not needing to be too direct about the reference.  It was a fun wink to everyone who’s been talking about it, and I’m glad the art of subtlety won out in the concepting room.

In my opinion though, the biggest lesson is that if you have a good idea, don’t be afraid to shoot your shot – and make sure you get it off in time. 

This spot was out within days, while the original Peloton spot was still fresh in everyone’s minds and it was able to capitalize.  While I always fully support thorough planning and going through all the important stages of the video creative process (brainstorming, scripting, location scouting, shot list creation, shooting, editing, revision rounds, etc.) this spot really worked because it was able to launch so quickly.  If it came out in a month, it wouldn’t have gotten nearly the reaction it did. 

Would a normal national brand spot with actors, locations, video shoots, etc. typically involve at least a month of planning beforehand?  Absolutely.  But in this case, that luxury didn’t exist, and kudos to the brand and production company (also owned by Ryan Reynolds, because apparently he owns everything…) for realizing that in a case like this, sometimes you have to throw normal timelines and processes out the window in order to strike while the iron is hot.

According to this interview with the New York Times, the idea for the spot came about last Tuesday afternoon.  By Friday morning they had finalized the concept, booked the talent and location and were shooting the spot.  By that same night the spot was done being edited and posted on the internet.  Now, that’s a fast turnaround! 

But again, a perfect concept in that it was so simple and easy to put together that it was able to be executed in the kind of timeframe that was necessary to pull it off. Speaking of other things that make the concept effective, let’s also talk cost.  This piece was able to be produced all-in for under $100,000.  In advertising world, that’s a huge bargain.  Especially for a piece that received the views and attention that this one did. 

I don’t know how much the initial Peloton ad cost to create, but I can guarantee that it was well over $100,000.  And involved an even more ridiculously expensive ad buy on more traditional mediums, like television.  The Aviation Gin piece was just tweeted out, not even as a promoted post.  It was legitimately distributed for free.

The lesson in all of this is that in today’s world of video and advertising, sometimes if you have a good idea, you just need to run with it.  Well, more like sprint.  You also need to have a creative partner who will go on that wild, fast-paced journey with you. (It’s something we pride ourselves on here at PEG).  Attention spans are shorter than ever, and today’s viral hits are afterthoughts by next week.  So when good ideas happen that revolve around a topical moment, you have to act immediately.  It’s always good to trust the process…unless there’s just not time for it.

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