Login or Join

The Hosts

Chip Griffin is the founder and the Small Agency Growth Alliance where he helps PR & marketing agencies grow and thrive. He brings more than two decades of experience as an agency executive and entrepreneur. He shares the wisdom of his success and lessons of his failures. Follow him on Twitter at @ChipGriffin.

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, the lead blogger at Spin Sucks, and the host of Spin Sucks the podcast. She also is co-author of Marketing in the Round and co-host of Inside PR. Follow her on Twitter at @GiniDietrich.

Recent Episodes

Quick-thinking agencies can help clients in a crisis

In this episode, recorded in December 2021, Chip and Gini discuss the rapid response ad that Ryan Reynolds helped Peloton create after their product was featured in an unflattering way on a TV show.

Just hours after this episode was recorded, serious allegations became public about actor Chris Noth who was featured both in the original TV episode as well as the ad created by Ryan Reynolds and his agency.

While those allegations certainly cast a different light on the specific situation discussed in this episode, the broader points that Chip and Gini make about how agencies can work with both clients and prospects in crisis situations still hold up.

The following is a computer-generated transcript. Please listen to the audio to confirm accuracy.

Chip Griffin 

Hello, listeners. This is Chip Griffin. And before we get started with this week’s episode, I wanted to let you know that this is an episode that we recorded in December of 2021. Before public serious allegations were made about Chris Noth. It obviously would impact how we perceive some of the specifics of the situation that we discussed. But we felt that the broader points that we raised about agency client relationships and related issues still applied. So we’re going to share the episode with you. But we wanted to make you aware of the timing, so that you can understand the context of what we’re discussing. So with that, let’s get on with the show. Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Agency Leadership Podcast. I’m Chip Griffin,

Gini Dietrich 

and I’m Gini Dietrich.

Chip Griffin 

Today we’re gonna talk about Ryan Reynolds. Right after this. so Ryan Reynolds, what do we have to say about him?

Gini Dietrich 

Well, he’s very good looking. Start there. He’s funny. He’s funny on Twitter.

Chip Griffin 

Well, unfortunately, those aren’t really the things we’re going to be talking about. Oh, they’re not shooters. They’re not. As we record this, this is shortly after the the big Peloton incident of 2021. Which

Gini Dietrich 

It seems like they have an incident every year, doesn’t it? There’s a big incident with them every year. Sure.

Chip Griffin 

By the time you’re listening to this, this will be you know, in the past, obviously, because we’re recording about a month ahead of time at this point. But you know, it’s January. So that means maybe you’re on your newly acquired Peloton that you got over the holidays and are applying your New Year’s resolution to work out more. So the timely from that perspective.

Gini Dietrich 

Also, if you have not seen Sex and the City, and you are planning to see Sex and the City, turn this off. Turn it off. Do not listen. Come back to it later.

Chip Griffin 

Yeah. Oh, I I think that at this point, if you don’t know if you’re in the communications and marketing space, and you have no idea what went on? I am not sure there’s any hope for you. But yes, if somehow you don’t know what happened, and if you happen to be inclined to watch Sex and the City, the reboot, you probably want to hold off on listening to this conversation.

Gini Dietrich 

Yeah, actually, as soon as it happened. I hadn’t seen it yet. And I so I was like, no, not looking not looking not looking. And I didn’t until I could see the episode. So if you’re,

Chip Griffin 

I wish I had seen it by the time the news came. Well, yeah. So yeah. So I was I was not blindsided by it.

Gini Dietrich 

I had to, I had to keep my eyes closed, because I’m very slow at TV watching very slow at it. So but I have seen it now. We can now talk about it. We’re good.

Chip Griffin 

Fantastic. Well, that will make the show much more interesting. Because if we couldn’t talk about it, you could just sign off right now. And then it really would depend on what actually happened. But you’d have to figure that out before we could. All right, anyway, so So for those of you who have lived under a rock and are never going to watch Sex and the City, the reboot. Basically one of the main characters, rides a Peloton and dies. That’s a you know, the Clifs Notes version of it. He doesn’t die on the Peloton, he you know, he does his 1000th ride or whatever, and celebrates it, blah, blah, blah, then gets off and collapses. He’s going into the shower. And then Carrie Bradshaw apparently doesn’t know how to dial 911.

Gini Dietrich 

Right. I did that too. I was like, what call?

Chip Griffin 

Yeah, I mean, it is a TV show. So but one would hope in real life that your first inclination on seeing your significant other having a heart attack is to dial 911. Then you can comfort them and all that kind of stuff. But start with the 911.

Gini Dietrich 

Yeah, I did the same exact thing. I was like, what do you what are you doing?

Chip Griffin 

Yeah, it doesn’t seem that difficult. But so the purpose of this is not to discuss the TV show, because that’s really we’re not we’re not an entertainment show. I mean, we do provide some entertainment. But we are not here to talk about that. We’re here to talk about how this applies to agencies. And so you’re sitting there saying to yourself, how on God’s green earth could this have anything to do with an agency? Well, it turns out the connection to the agency world is Ryan Reynolds. Haha, look at wrap your mind around that one for a moment. I suspect that many of you prior to this, were not aware that Ryan Reynolds has an interest in an agency because he is a man of apparently many talents. So you know, the actor celebrity you know, he sold his his liquor company his gin, Aviation Gin right was his I think he sold that for a ton of dough and but it turns out he also has an advertising agency. And so they had been apparently pitching Peloton on work and hadn’t been having a whole lot of success. And then of course, Peloton apparently got blindsided by the fact that this major character in this prominent TV show collapses right after using their product. Not a great day for the brand. No, their stock price actually plummeted showing just how stupid people can be. Because this is a TV character, having a heart attack. This is not an actual person being harmed by a defective unit or something like that. Great, but for some reason, the stock market said yeah, let’s just you know, take a chunk of their market cap out of them.

Gini Dietrich 

Also, you cannot have a heart attack because you had an intense workout. Which I like this really bothers me. I know I’m not a doctor but I am a cyclist, an avid cyclist I raced my bicycle you cannot have a heart attack from having an intense workout

Chip Griffin 

correct it is it may you it may be the last thing that happens before you have the heart attack. But but it does not. It’s not like you wouldn’t have had the heart attack if you right it didn’t work out did not cause the heart attack it may have impacted the timing somewhat perhaps what it doesn’t matter anyway. Again we’re not doctors we’re not we’re not we’re so far off the track here

Gini Dietrich 

I know I had to say that because it really bothers me like people are like no you people were tweeting Peloton killed Mr. Big no that’s not actually true. Peloton did not kill Mr. Big Okay, now I’m off my soapbox.

Chip Griffin 

Mr. Big is not real. First of all, this is a TV show. So all the people that I’ve seen, you know, being really upset about the fact it’s a TV show. Mr. Miss there is no real Mr. Big. So Mr. Big really didn’t die. His character gets killed off and what killed Mr. Big was the writers. I mean, fair. Oh, that is so you should blame the keyboard that produces the portion of the script that says Mr. Big collapses and dies. That is yes. So there

Gini Dietrich 

we go. I’m not calling 911 that killed him. But here we are back to not talking about

Chip Griffin 

Carrie Bradshaw had called 911 They would have said, this is a TV show. What are you doing bothering us? So anyway, all right. Wow. I feel like you know, since this is the last recording we’re doing for the year where our minds have gotten to mush and we’re very I love it. You know, who knows whether you’ll ever ever hear this episode, because we may just throw it out for being so far. Anyway, Ryan Reynolds hasn’t. He has an agency yes, they decide to rejuvenate their conversations with Peloton by calling up Peloton and saying, Hey, I’m Ryan Reynolds. And I’ve got this pretty cool idea for how you can address this problem. And so they pulled together for Peloton in less than 48 hours a 30 second ad spot that featured Mr. Big and the Peloton instructor who was also had a cameo in the episode. And so they use that in a humorous way to I guess try to undo some of the damage, if you will. And I thought they did a pretty nice job.

Gini Dietrich 

I thought they did too. Although as we were talking about this before we started before we hit record, you had a good point in that. Not everybody is Ryan Reynolds. Not everybody can call Mr. Big Chris Noth not, you know, and get him on in front of a camera within 24 hours to create a 30 second ad. So let’s caveat that, but I think it’s really it’s a really good lesson from an agency perspective, for two reasons. One to be really responsive and be it from a client perspective, be thinking about, you know, are there opportunities for you to take something and turn it into something else? I think it’s a great crisis management example, because in most cases, at least from a comms perspective, when you have a crisis like that, where your your stock price drops, because of, you know, a mentioned, quote, unquote, killing a character on a TV show because of your product. Um, usually what you would do is you’d go on the defensive and you’d get you know, you you’d have doctors out there and they did some of this too, but then you’d have doctors out there saying that that’s not true, like you would do all of that. But the idea that you they came up with this unspoiler alert spot within 48 hours and sort of undid the damage that way I think is really smart.

Chip Griffin 

When it completely changed the narrative to right because because before that ad dropped on YouTube, the conversation was could Peloton sue would Peloton sue HBO for you know, misappropriating their brand, even though apparently they gave some level of authorization, maybe they forgot to say, Hey, by the way, how are you going to use our property? We see the scripts. Can we see the script? Yeah. So that is also a good agency lesson. If you are doing a deal with an influencer, a TV show or a YouTube channel, and someone says, Hey, can we use your brand? Maybe ask how, you know, maybe, maybe don’t assume that it’s going to be in a positive light. And I’m sure that Peloton I mean, I’m sure whoever the poor brand manager is at Peloton who signed off on this assumed, hey, how could they use us in a bad way? Turns out they could. Now, you could also argue that that’s maybe a little bit of dirty pool by the TV show to you know, to ask someone if they can use their brand and not tell them they’re using it in kind of a negative way. I mean, that is kind of, I think, a crappy thing for the producers to do. Yeah, I think so too. But you know, it is what it is. So, you know, that’s Lesson One is that you need to make sure that as you’re cutting these kinds of deals, which are becoming a lot more common today, right? Because traditional advertising, traditional media, those aren’t working in the same way that they did 10, 20, 30 years ago. Sure. So agencies are coming up with more creative ways to work with a wider variety of people to get brands out there and get attention. Make sure you understand, you know what, you know, how it’s being used, make sure you understand what the downside risks are, and be prepared for them. So that’s, I think, lesson number one out of this.

Gini Dietrich 

Yeah. And I, you know, I think you’re right, and we’ve been, we’ve been involved in quite a few partnerships at a really high level that we wouldn’t necessarily be doing, or will have done, you know, even two or three years ago, five years ago. And you have to you have to understand that. So everything that I read about it said that they gave permission for HBO to use the name and they gave permission for the product to be featured. But HBO didn’t pay for the product placement. Peloton didn’t give them the bike. So there was this gray area where HBO was kind of like, well, we’re not going to release the script because we don’t want it we you know, we don’t want it to be a surprise. And we’re like, Okay,

Chip Griffin 

right. Yes. retrospect, I’m sure that they wish they had asked all, you know, maybe maybe lemons out of lemonade here or eliminated lemons, rather, you know, maybe maybe it turns out okay for them in the end, because of what Ryan Reynolds and his agency did. But you can’t assume that that’s going to be the case. And so you need to be asking those questions and making sure that you’re, you’re covered. Yeah, I mean, it’s just it’s, and those are reasonable questions to ask. So, so I and and I, you know, I would imagine that whoever signed off on this for peloton has had some uncomfortable days. Yeah, you know, whether that’s someone in house or an agency or a little bit of flow not been a good week for them not been a good week for them? And I, you know, I feel for them, but I would not be surprised if some people lost their jobs.

Gini Dietrich 

Yeah. I mean, not be surprised, either.

Chip Griffin 

It’s hard to imagine taking a massive hit to your stock and not seeking retribution on some employee. That’s just the way corporate America works.

Gini Dietrich 

It is. So that’s a really great lesson number one. Number two is we talked about a little bit, but the idea that you’re responsible for your clients, so if there’s an opportunity for you to to make lemonade out of lemons, like they have done with their own spoiler alert, that’s, I think that’s a really good lesson as well. Like what think about things differently and sort of creatively so that you can take a little bit of risks to change the narrative. It’s a really great way

Chip Griffin 

to do that. And as an agency, it’s your job to help the client avoid being angry and defensive. Which is which is typically the first reaction to this Yep. Right. I mean, you know, chances are when peloton first heard this, you know, some exec was sitting there and pounding on his desk and saying, Oh, my God, this is ridiculous. And, you know, who let this happen? And, you know, and lashing out and, you know, that’s, that’s a natural reaction, you as the agency need to be the cooler head, right? You need to be counseling them to say, hold on, let’s take a look at this. How can we address this and in this particular case, there was a really creative way that that may not always be possible, because maybe there isn’t that particular path ahead of you. And maybe you don’t have Ryan Reynolds to pick up the phone and get this done. Right.

Gini Dietrich 

But I think the third thing is is and you raised this at the beginning, which is they they were had been talking to Peloton because I think I’ve ended up in here I think like 2018 Maybe they had done a spoof Ryan Reynolds and his agency had done a spoof on Peloton and because first of all, I think Peloton was angry at first, but then they started to have a conversation with them. And they were in the process of either of talking to them about whether or not they were going to become their agency. I don’t think they had been hired yet. But it sounds like from the media reports that that relationship like the the conversation had gone a little bit stale, and so they use this as an opportunity to get back into their good graces and how and reignite that conversation. Whether or not peloton paid for that ad? I don’t I couldn’t find any information about that. But they did. They did get back in the good graces of Peloton and reignited that conversation again. So I think there’s an opportunity for us as agency owners to think about it from that perspective, too.

Chip Griffin 

Yeah, I mean, and it’s a question I get asked a lot by clients, I’m sure you do as well, you know, I, this client at this prospect is ghosting me, you know, I can’t get them to talk, you know, they seemed interested and now they’ve gone silent, or they’re really slow in reviewing the proposal or those kinds of things. And so, you know, obviously you don’t have these opportunities in every case, and you want you want to be a little bit careful about manufacturing, sure, opportunities. But if, if an actual opportunity presents itself like this one did, that is a prime opportunity for you to step out as an agency and say, Look, you know, this is this is something we can help you with and not, you know, set aside the conversation about whatever else you are already working with them on, right? Don’t, don’t try to make it don’t say, Hey, if you sign this deal, we can help you with this. Right? Right. Right, say, hey, look, I’ve got an idea. And you know, and maybe we can work together on this one particular thing, and prove ourselves, if you will, and those are opportunities that you should be looking for, with your clients with your prospects, because it can be a good way to either get new business to grow an account, or frankly, you know, just to help retain some business if it’s an existing client.

Gini Dietrich 

Absolutely. And, you know, I don’t by any stretch of the imagination, I think you would agree with this think that you should be giving away free ideas or doing free ads, you know, to reignite that conversation, but you absolutely could go back to them and say, Hey, I saw this happen, have an idea. Can we talk about how we might be able to get this done together? I don’t see any problem with that. Yeah.

Chip Griffin 

And, and it is a balancing act, because you don’t want to be too coy about it. Right? And, you know, so you, so you have to walk a fine line here. And if it’s, if it’s just a brilliant brainstorm that you got in 30 seconds, I’m a lot more willing to say, sure, you know, give that idea away, right? Because, you know, what I have always said is that, that ideas, you know, are a dime a dozen. It’s the execution that matters. And so, you know, if you didn’t spend a whole lot of time coming up with the idea, don’t spend a whole lot of time protecting it. You know, particularly if you can use it to to advance a relationship, you know, that I would much rather use it in that fashion and view it as an investment in the relationship.

Gini Dietrich 

Yeah, I would totally I totally agree with that. And I think they did a really nice job with this. We’ll have to link to the unspoiler alert, if you’ve not seen it, the YouTube video that they put together, it’s good. And they did it in a really tasteful way. I think that to your point has changed the conversation.

Chip Griffin 

Yeah, and I think I thought it was funny the way that they they wind up where they’re basically you know, talking about how Mr. Big led an unhealthy life and you know, that’s that’s probably what killed him which wishes I mean, that that was consistent with peloton. initial statement after that. It was it was a pretty good immediate press reaction. Yeah, right. You know, that Mr. Big drinks, a lot of martinis eats a lot of steaks had a previous heart attack, I guess on the show. I can’t remember that. But you know. Yeah, yeah. So yeah, I think the the bottom line is that, you know, agencies have a lot more opportunities in front of them than they realize with prospects and clients, and you need to be tasteful about these things. But you can, you can often find ways to turn a crisis to your advantage. As long as it doesn’t appear like you’re taking advantage of such microcline.

Gini Dietrich 

Yeah, I think you can be. And people know, if you’re being disingenuous, you, you’re trying to take advantage of people No. So if you’re, if you’re genuine about it, and it truly is a great idea that you can help them turn it around. I see no reason you can’t bring that to the forefront.

Chip Griffin 

Yeah, and the only other asterisk or fine print that I provide to this is, keep in mind that anytime you’re doing something that is funny, you’re taking a much larger risk. So yep, in this particular case, I mean, you’re talking about, you know, Ryan Reynolds and other folks who have a pretty good, you know, finger on the pulse for this kind of thing. Be a little bit cautious whenever you’re suggesting a funny response. Because funny doesn’t always land the way that you think it will. And so it is something that you want to be a little bit careful about. And so you also need to think about context. In this case, humor works in part because this is a TV show, right? He’s a real person. If this had been a real person who died after being on a peloton, no matter how unhealthy they might have been not the same, not the same thing. Correct. So context matters. Yeah. And and so just keep that in mind because I often see people in the communication space who try to be funny, and they don’t understand that that humor is a much riskier proposition than being just a straight communicator,

Gini Dietrich 

or and you also see the news jacking where they tried to glom on to something and it, it falls flat because it’s not. It’s not appropriate. It’s not funny. It’s not. It’s none of those things. And so I would I would extend that advice to anytime you see something in the news that you want to love your, your brand on to new, new?

Chip Griffin 

Well, I think the bottom line is anytime you have to try, it’s probably not a good idea, right? If it comes naturally, that’s fine. But like with news jacking, if you’re if you’re out looking for opportunity, you’re probably going to screw it up. If you hear a story and you say, that’s a perfect fit for what we’re doing. That’s one that’s probably worth pursuing. Yep. Oh, you know, just don’t don’t spend a lot of time hunting for these kinds of things. Make sure that they’re coming along naturally. 100%. And with that, that brings us to the natural end of today’s episode. And our discussion of Ryan Reynolds, which is the most I’ve ever talked about Ryan. until about two years ago, I don’t think I even know who he was. So anyway, he’s pretty funny. Yeah, you know, and apparently a business person. Yeah, great business person. So on that note, we will wind this episode up. I’m Chip Griffin,

Gini Dietrich 

and I’m Gini Dietrich,

Chip Griffin 

and it depends.

Subscribe by Email

Get the latest Agency Leadership Podcast episodes delivered straight to your inbox!

MORE OPTIONS:   Apple Podcasts    |    Google Podcasts    |    Stitcher    |    Spotify    |    RSS

Like this episode? Share it!