How And Why Peloton Quickly Distanced Itself From Actor Chris Noth

Peloton’s response to an emerging crisis situation underscored an important crisis management best practice: Don’t wait to respond to a crisis. The sooner you react to the situation, the sooner you can put the emergency behind you.

Peloton did just that earlier this month. Twice.

What they did, why they did it and how they did it provides important crisis management lessons for business leaders.

Crisis No. 1

According to the New York Times, Peloton removed its online ad featuring actor Chris Noth after The Hollywood Reporter published an article in which two women accused the actor of sexual assault.

In a statement, Peloton said, “Every single sexual assault accusation must be taken seriously. We were unaware of these allegations when we featured Chris Noth in our response to HBO’s reboot” of Sex and the City. “As we seek to learn more, we have stopped promoting this video and archived related social posts.”

Noth told The Hollywood Reporter that, “The accusations against me made by individuals I met years, even decades, ago are categorically false. These stories could’ve been from 30 years ago or 30 days ago— no always means no— that is a line I did not cross.”


“The encounters were consensual. It’s difficult not to question the timing of these stories coming out. I don’t know for certain why they are surfacing now, but I do know this: I did not assault these women,” he added.

‘Peloton Set A Great Example’

Dan Ni is the founder and CEO of email marketing automation platform He observed that, “Peloton set a great example with their instant and clear response regarding the sexual allegations surfacing. It showed how their company has zero-tolerance for such behavior and their complete and instant disassociation by putting out a clear and firm statement and pulling out the ad set [as] a precedent for others to follow.

“This entire situation is a great example of how to respond to a crisis. The first response and action following the response set the tone for the future…is the most crucial point of a crisis. And the peloton response teaches us how crucial [your response time] is. The longer you wait, the more justifications are required on your end,” he said.

Crisis No. 2

Ironically, the ad that was pulled was in response to a crisis a few days earlier that also involved Peloton.

According to Variety, “In the first episode of HBO Max’s Sex and the City reboot, Mr. Big (Chris Noth) drops dead of a heart attack after completing his 1,000th ride on a Peloton class led by his favorite instructor, Jess King. Shortly after the show aired, Peloton’s stock dropped.

“The fitness company went into spin control, releasing a statement from its cardiologist that insisted Big’s death shouldn’t be attributed to working out but to his ‘extravagant lifestyle — including cocktails, cigars and big steaks.’”

‘A Smart Move’

Aaron Gordon is a partner at Schwartz Media Strategies, a communications and public affairs firm. He said that, “With its flagship product thrust into a crisis, Peloton made a smart move by quickly bringing actor Chris Noth into the fold and shifting the narrative away from Mr. Big’s on-screen demise. 

“Peloton’s marketing campaign struck the right tone, reminding everyone that Sex and the City is indeed a work of fiction and that no actors were harmed during the making of And Just Like That.”

No Time For Due Diligence

Gordon said, “[The] problem is, Peloton’s fast action response meant the company didn’t have time to conduct proper due diligence and the plan backfired when Noth was publicly accused of sexual abuse just days later, forcing the company to do an about-face.

“This turn of events reinforces the importance of fully vetting a potential partner before a company hitches its wagon to their personal brand. Peloton’s instincts to change the narrative quickly and creatively were on point, but these decisions should not be made in haste,” he said.

Learning From Another Crisis

Peloton is no stranger to crisis situations. Indeed, their quick response to the Noth situation showed what they may have learned from their delayed and criticized response to a self-inflicted crisis earlier this year.

In May, I reported that, “Several weeks ago the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued an ‘urgent warning’ for the ​Tread+ and Tread treadmills made by Peloton, urging people to stop using the products immediately. On Wednesday, the at-home fitness company announced it was recalling the exercise equipment.

According to the New York Times, the recall came less than a month after Peloton fought the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission warning that dozens of injuries and the death of a child had been linked to the machines. “Peloton is offering a full refund for the $4,295 machine with a 32-inch touch screen that allows runners to work out with the aid of instructors,” according to the newspaper.

In a statement posted on the company’s website, Peloton CEO John Foley said, “I want to be clear, Peloton made a mistake in our initial response to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s request that we recall the Tread+. We should have engaged more productively with them from the outset. For that, I apologize.

“Today’s announcement reflects our recognition that, by working closely with the CPSC, we can increase safety awareness for our Members. We believe strongly in the future of at-home connected fitness and are committed to work with the CPSC to set new industry safety standards for treadmills. We have a desire and a responsibility to be an industry leader in product safety.”

Advice For Business Leaders

  • Don’t wait to respond to an emerging crisis.
  • Tell people what you did in response to the crisis and how and why you did it.
  • Learn from the successes and mistakes of how other companies and organizations respond to their own crisis situations.
The Tycoon Herald