The Best and Worst of 2021 Branding & Marketing


2021 was another unprecedented year with COVID closures, travel restrictions, and small businesses fighting to survive. And, yet there were highs and lows in the branding and marketing industries. Here’s my list of what sizzled and fizzled in 2021.


HERE’S WHAT FIZZLED:


1) Square Changing its Name to Block

I understand Jack Dorsey’s urge to move his fin-tech company towards the blockchain. However, I take serious umbrage to the change. Firstly, shifting from Square to Block is analogous to changing your company name from Circle to Round! Secondly, H&R Block has already filed its lawsuit for trademark infringement rightly claiming that with Block expanding its financial services, the newly named company will breach the beachhead of “confusingly similar” – the gold standard for determining infringement.



2) Hane’s Ball-ance Underwear Ad

Ewww! Do I really have to explain this crotchety performance? Awful, embarrassing, crude. Need I say more?


3) Kate McKinnon in Verizon’s Commercials

Let’s just start here: what is with her walk? Has Kate never walked in heels? And if she can’t walk, why not just give her a pair of Rothy’s? Her storming across the screen is so distracting that it obscures the message. I had to Google her to find out the brand she was promoting. Take a look.


4) Cleveland Indians Changing its Name to Cleveland Guardians

I’m not going down the political rabbit hole of if the baseball team should have changed its name. I am, however, questioning why a Major League Baseball team didn’t perform its due diligence! The new Cleveland Guardians domain still points to a local roller derby team. Duh!


5) Latinx as a Gender-Neutral Term

Leave it to academics to create this blunder of a word. The history of the Spanish language is based upon nouns being masculine and feminine. We therefore have Latinos or Latinas. Most importantly, however, Latinos themselves get to vote how they want to be acknowledged. Recent research shows 40% of them are offended by the term Latinx and 68% prefer the word Hispanic. Case closed!


HERE’S WHAT SIZZLED:


1) Peloton

Can you spell agile? This brand has had tectonic shifts in its marketing. It started with earning universal poor press last year thanks to lawsuits, delivery issues, and poor advertising campaigns. This year when the bomb dropped that Mr. Big had a heart attack after getting off its bike, Peloton fired back at “And Just Like That” (the Sex & the City sequel) with its own commercial spoofing the HBO show. Now, with TV star Chris Noth under scrutiny for assault, Peloton has quietly pulled the ad.


2) Apple’s Air Pods

Without saying a word, this commercial speaks volumes; the dancing is on trend and shows the benefit that the new Air Pods stay secure to move with you. If you’ve ever lost an earbud, you know what I’m talking about.


3) ScotteVest Tagline

I adore their tagline: It’s not rocket science, It’s Pocket Science! Of course, I’m partial to puns, but this one truly explains that its clothes are an abundance of pockets; its vests are like cargo pants for your chest.


4) Amazon Kindness Commercial

Stay with me and invest 2 minutes to watch it here. I dare you not to care or cry.


5) Planter’s Shake It Like Dad

I challenge you not to crack a smile watching this one. Emerging just for Father’s Day, it’s sly fun.

What did I miss? What were your branding and marketing highlights and lowlights? I’m all ears.

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