Popular Bad Brand Stories to Avoid Today

You’ve seen several examples of great brand stories that resonated with the target audience. In the same vein, you’ll have picked up a few lessons on the way. But have you taken time to check out instances where brand stories went wrong?

Irrespective of your answer to the question, this article has a few examples of bad brand stories for you. You can pick up a few lessons from these stories to avoid making similar mistakes.

What Is Brand Storytelling

Brand storytelling is the practice of weaving a compelling narrative around an organization or product in order to build meaningful connections with consumers. It involves utilizing elements like history, values, mission, and culture to create a story that resonates emotionally and engages people on a deeper level. 

You can do this through various forms of content, such as advertising campaigns, video storytelling, podcasts, interactive experiences, blogs, and social media posts. By crafting effective brand stories, companies can engage potential customers and inspire them to become part of the story.

A cup of coffee with a heart foam on top next to a blank card
Photo by Freddy Castro on Unsplash

Examples of Bad Brand Stories

Brand stories have become integral to marketing. Like every other thing, there are good and bad examples. Companies don’t always get it right. Here are some examples of bad brand stories.

Pepsi Video Featuring Kendall Jenner

Pepsi has had a history of telling bad brand stories due to its various controversies over the years. Its ad campaigns have come under heavy attacks for being insensitive and inappropriate.

In 2017, it released an advertisement featuring Kendall Jenner, which was seen as trivializing genuine protests like the Black Lives Matter movement.

In the 2.5-minute video, Jenner joins a protest nearby after cleaning off her lipstick and pulling off her wig to blend in. She hands out a can of Pepsi to a police officer which subsequently makes the crowd go wild. Many have interpreted the video in so many ways. And these interpretations are hardly positive. They feel Pepsi is trying to take advantage of genuine protests as a marketing gimmick.


Chevrolet’s attempt to appeal to millennials is another example of how not to tell a brand story. Chevy gathered a group of millennials to introduce its 2016 Chevy Cruze.

The video was meant to appeal to this specific demography, but it ended up doing no good. It was a badly thought piece of brand storytelling that businesses must avoid. It lacked authenticity, and the millennials that participated were bemused by how the company stereotyped millennials. 

Oldsmobile Commercial Featuring Ringo Starr

When Oldsmobile realized they were facing stiff competition in the automobile market, they devised a big plan. With this big plan, they hoped to send a message that appealed to the older and younger generation. Well, it failed. It turned out to be a classic example of chasing two rabbits and catching none.

The video featured older celebrities like Ringo Starr and Peter Graves and their children. It ended up alienating their original customer base without really appealing to the younger audience too. With taglines like “Not Just Your Father’s Car,” the video succeeded in alienating the brand’s original customer base. 

Final Thoughts

Unarguably, storytelling can help brands a lot. However, you can only make the best of it when you put your audience first. Before putting out any new marketing video, you need to understand the mindset of your audience.

Put your customers first, and people will like to identify with your brand among other competing brands in the market. The time to put out that brand story is now. This article has shown you some bad examples you should avoid.

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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