5 brands that tried way too hard to be cool

It can be extremely difficult for brands to deliver something that ticks all the right boxes. Sometimes, big brands can even tarnish their names through advertising fails. Whether by being sexist, tone-deaf or racist, many brands end up ruining their reputations through terrible marketing campaigns.

Unfortunately, these brands desperately try to be cool amongst the masses but often fail spectacularly. From the infamous Pepsi advert with Kendall Jenner to the cringe-worthy Peleton advertisement, here are five of the worst examples of brands trying way hard to be cool.

KFC’s A Recipe for Seduction

Everyone knows that Colonel Sanders is the main image behind KFC. Throughout the years, Sanders has become a cultural icon and instantly recognisable. Many people know the brand simply from an outline of Sanders. In more recent years, KFC has taken a lighthearted approach to advertisements with a DC Comic, KFConsole and even a dating simulator game called I Love You, Colonel Sanders.

Some of these concepts have been genius, but others have felt like the brand has been trying too hard to live up to its meme of Sanders. In 2020, the company completely outdid itself with the short Lifetime Channel movie called A Recipe for Seduction starring Mario Lopez as Colonel Sanders. Throughout the film, Sanders is a humble chef embroiled in a love triangle between a young heiress and her wealthy fiancee.

The premise for this film is absolute gold and definitely had people talking for all the right reasons. Sadly, the actual film was nothing too special and featured terrible acting along with a cringeworthy story showing how out of touch KFC actually is with modern-day audiences. A Recipe for Seduction could’ve been a classic campaign but was instantly forgotten just as soon as it was released showing how much of a failure it actually was.

Pepsi’s Live for Now Campaign

It may come as a surprise, but the Kardashian family do not have the answers to everything. Each member of the family has been involved in a variety of mishaps, but the most notorious and cringe-worthy has to be the “Live for Now” advertisement starring Kendall Jenner for Pepsi. The concept of this advert may seem harmless on the surface and no one could’ve imagined what the final product would’ve looked like.

In the advert, Kendal Jenner is modelling at a photoshoot and a cellist gestures for her to join a march outside for nothing specifically mentioned. She approaches the march and sees several police officers standing in a line formation. Of course, Jenner then casually goes up to the officer and hands him a can of Pepsi. After this, the officer drinks the can and everyone celebrates.

Not only is this advertisement tone deaf in regards to how protestors are treated in America, but it also tries to capitalise on imagery imitating protests in the Black Lives Matter movement. Pepsi obviously tried to use social justice causes in their advertising and attempted to relate to people within this movement. Thankfully, audiences saw straight through this and the advertisement was pulled by Pepsi just one day after distribution showing much of a misfire this concept was.

Fashion TV’s move into iGaming

Founded in France in 1997, Fashion TV was created by Michael Adam Lisowski and soon became an international fashion and lifestyle broadcasting channel. By 2021, the company decided to branch off into iGaming with the launch of the Trillionaire slot. The game is based solely on the song called ‘I Want to be a Trillionaire’ which was released by FashionTV star Anja J back in the Summer of 2014.

Whilst many brands and celebrities have branched into the iGaming world, the Trillionaire slot fails to add anything unique or interesting to the industry and it’s quite mediocre in terms of gameplay and design. It’s clear that the company wanted the Trillionaire slot to become a classic amongst players and the original song to become a hit – but clearly, this didn’t happen. Players within the iGaming world know exactly what they want to play and the Trillionaire slot just wasn’t that.

Fashion TV is known as the world’s only 24-hour fashion, beauty and lifestyle channel that has a global following with over two billion viewers worldwide showcasing that the brand is doing something right but just happened to deliver something a little too cringe-worthy. Despite trying too hard with the Trillionaire slot, Fashion TV managed to expand into iGaming fully with live casino games, poker, bingo and even lottery. Hopefully, future projects from Fashion TV’s gaming division will be more entertaining to players.

Best Buy’s Superbowl Commercial with Ozbourne and Bieber

As a household name in the USA, Best Buy is a multinational consumer electronics retailer and one of the largest ones in Canada and the US. In 2011, the brand decided to go big for its next advertising campaign featuring both Ozzy Osbourne and Justin Bieber. This unlikely duo could’ve made for absolute TV gold if Best Buy didn’t try too hard to be cool.

The advert starts out with Osbourne wearing a futuristic suit but retains his dark makeup and long hair. In the advert, he is advertising 4G but the director soon upgrades him to 5G. However, Osbourne cannot get used to the change and struggles to convey what the director wants him to. Fast-forward to some awkward and uncomfortable moments before Bieber arrives to make it even worse.

Ultimately, the tagline for the advert is ‘Don’t get left behind’ and for people to upgrade to the latest technology. Both Bieber and Ozbourne work to get the most embarrassing lines in and truly shows a decline for the once legendary rockstar. It’s clear that Best Buy tried to deliver a tongue-in-cheek advert but sadly it just ended up humiliating one of the greatest rockstars of all time.

Peloton’s The Gift That Gives Back

Christmas is the perfect time for companies to release clever marketing campaigns to persuade buyers to buy their products. Sadly, Peloton went viral for all the wrong reasons and became a laughing stock with the campaign “The Gift That Gives Back”. In the advertisement, a husband buys his wife a Christmas gift in the form of a Peleton bike because that’s what everyone wants for Christmas.

The advert then turns into a vlogging session in which the woman details her journey with the bike and praises Peleton. However, some have pointed out that the amateur camera shots throughout the advert resemble a hostage video and that the woman is screaming for help. Whilst others have stated that the advert is sexist and dystopian in forcing a woman to lose weight whilst already being quite slim.

The general consensus for the advert is that it’s dumb and offensive. Naturally, the advert led to many spoofs and parodies embarrassing the company even more. This clearly wasn’t the win that Peleton was hoping for and even lost the brand $1.5bn in value through the backlash of the advert showing just how much of a failure the concept for this advert was.