The actress who starred in Peloton’s recent “The Gift That Gives Back” commercial—identified by People as performer Monica Ruiz—probably wasn’t expecting to become a meme this week. And yet memed she was, as the internet sank its fangs into the meaty flank of all the truly bizarre things about the ad, which begins with a husband dropping upwards of two grand on a fancy exercise bike for his clearly-already-very-healthy wife, and then records Ruiz’s increasingly “trapped in the fitness gulag” facial expressions over a year of harried pre-sunrise workouts. Peloton has tried to do damage control in recent days, assuring the baying hordes that, hey, it thinks the ad is really sweet. But Ruiz appears to have gone a different route—with a little assistance from Ryan Reynolds.
Reynolds released the above ad for his Aviation Gin company last night, in which Ruiz can be seen embracing self-care of a very different, more liquid sort. Nobody references the Peloton ad in any sort of legally actionable way—although Reynolds’ accompanying tweet, and the ad’s title (“The Gift That Doesn’t Give Back”) make the context clear—and yet the image of a shell-shocked Ruiz downing martinis while supportive friends assure her she’s “safe here” sketch out the story pretty clearly. (They don’t go quite so far as actually burning a picture of Sean Hunter, the actor who plays the husband in the original ad, in effigy atop the wreckage of the damnable bike, but the vibe is definitely there.) It’s a fun little piece of reactive advertising on Reynolds and his team’s part, even if the only piece of pure pro-gin marketing copy involved—Ruiz’s “This gin is really smooth!”—sounds like it’s happening in the first worried moments of emergence from a long and very aerobic fugue state.
Update: Ruiz has now issued a statement (to Deadline) about her unlikely and unexpected burst of celebrity:
I was happy to accept a job opportunity earlier this year from Peloton and the team was lovely to work with. Although I’m an actress, I am not quite comfortable being in spotlight and I’m terrible on social media. So to say I was shocked and overwhelmed by the attention this week (especially the negative) is an understatement. When Ryan and his production team called about Aviation Gin, they helped me find some humor in the situation. I am grateful to both Peloton and now Aviation Gin for the work and giving me the opportunity to do what I love to do.