Branding Speaker, Trainer, and Coach

2021: What Sizzled & Fizzled in Branding & Marketing


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.


1) Square Changing its Name to Block

Stripe changes name to BlockI 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!


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.

  1. You are always on point and bring a smile to my face as I chuckle at some and am enlightened at the same time. Square to Block, really? Thank you!

  2. Liz, I agree with every one of your Fizzles. Only you could put into words – so succinctly and with such strength, wit, and wisdom – this lineup of unquestionable marketing misses. You always impress me!

  3. Liz, Great examples from both sides. Unfortunately for us all the fizzle category exponentially out paces the sizzle category every year. Don’t stop keeping us amazed and amused with your brand brilliance!

    • Yes, bad is always funner; it’s why the DUH! Marketing Awards were so popular. I do admire Peloton’s ability and agility to pivot so quickly in getting its rebuttal commercial on and then off the air.

  4. Great annual recap Liz! I agree with all the examples you highlighted under the two categories. Merry Christmas! -Jeff

  5. Literally laughing out loud! “Let’s just start here: what is with her walk? Her storming across the screen is so distracting that it obscures the message.” I thought I was the only one who thought Kate was making an ass of herself. Verizon’s selection of spokespersons gets progressively worse. Loved the ScotteVest and Planter’s commercials, which I had not seen. Thanks for sharing.

    • We used to say, “why can’t Johnny read?” Now, we wonder: “Why can’t Kate walk?” I’m glad that I’m not the only one who finds her “walking” distrubing. Glad you liked my fave tagline. 🙂

Leave a Reply

(858) 550-7000

Contact Us

Privacy Policy

© 2018 to Present
REDFire Branding

Follow Us!

Liz Goodgold on Facebook twitter Liz Goodgold on LinkedIn Liz's Blog Liz Goodgold on YouTube

Does Your Brand Sizzle or Fizzle?


Take FREE Quiz