During Thursday's episode of Today, Reynolds met Monica Ruiz, the actress who reached internet fame after starring in an ad for Peloton, which was criticized by some who viewed it as being sexist and elitist. Following the viral ad, Reynolds' company, Aviation Gin, enlisted Ruiz to star in an ad of their own, which deftly poked fun at Ruiz's Peloton Wife persona.
After surprising Ruiz by coming out during her interview with Hoda Kotb, Reynolds explained that at first, after seeing the Peloton ad, he simply wanted to send Ruiz some of his gin.
"I watched it. I went, 'Oh wow. I see why there's some backlash.' And I said, 'Can we just send her a year's supply of gin? She doesn't have to film herself,'" he recalled. "And then that sort of evolved from there."
"We love acknowledging and playing with the cultural landscape. And we thought this was a great opportunity to do something," Reynolds continued. "Everything is sort of divisive these days. It's like, one camp here, one camp there. Well, we had this thought that we could do this ad without contributing to that divide, without really vilifying anybody, just sort of commenting on both the person and the actress in the ad all at once."
Reynolds went on to call the decision "a no brainer," before revealing that they turned the commercial around in just 36 hours.
"I can relate to that as an actor. You know, doing something creative that doesn't work and suddenly you feel like the only person on Earth and it's very alienating," Reynolds said. "I felt like there was some authorship on her part for this and it gives her the ability [to have] a call and response, which is great. Anytime you can have that, especially in advertising, everybody kind of wins."
Ruiz, who described meeting Reynolds as feeling like she was "in an alternate universe," wasn't exactly sold on starring in Aviation Gin's commercial right away.
"They reached out to my agent first and she gave me the idea and I was like, 'Oh, I don't think so. I think it's going to look like I'm making fun of it,'" she explained of her initial hesitation. "I had such an amazing experience when I shot the Peloton commercial that I was like, 'I don't want them to think that I'm going to make fun of them or say anything mean.' But they assured me that it was just an idea that was taking air out of the situation."
As for the controversy surrounding the Peloton ad in the first place, Ruiz blamed the whole thing on her eyebrows looking "worried," before expressing shock over the fact that the whole thing didn't simply blow over.
"When it didn't blow over and people started kind of answering for me and I saw some articles where they grabbed some stuff from, like, very old interviews, I was like, 'OK. I'll just let everyone know I'm fine. I'm OK. I'm not in a rehab for mental health anywhere,'" she quipped.
"I hope people can remember that I'm not actually the Peloton lady and let me work other jobs," Ruiz added.
Meanwhile, Peloton previously told CNBC that their ad was "misinterpreted."
"We constantly hear from our members how their lives have been meaningfully and positively impacted after purchasing or being gifted a Peloton Bike or Tread, often in ways that surprise them," the statement read. "Our holiday spot was created to celebrate that fitness and wellness journey. While we’re disappointed in how some have misinterpreted this commercial, we are encouraged by -- and grateful for -- the outpouring of support we’ve received from those who understand what we were trying to communicate."