While the Saturn was a bomb in America, it did much better in Japan, at least initially, which was a real coup given their poor performance in the home console arena up till that point. But it wasn't long before the PlayStation was eating its lunch there as well, hence why they needed a face for the public to rally behind in SEGA's defense - and that hero was Segata Sanshiro.
When Sony's PlayStation arrived in the mid-90s, the next console war was on. But still thinking in 16-bit terms for its 32-bit machine, Sony was determined to create a mascot for themselves and eventually decided upon Crash Bandicoot. This also lambasted SEGA's "in yo face" advertising tactics, with their "U R not (red)E" campaign, which somewhat worked in the beginning.
Midway through the SNES's life cycle, Nintendo tried adopting the hip and edgy feel of SEGA's spots, and they were beyond embarrassing. But by the time SEGA began pushing it's various 32-bit add-ons and devices, Nintendo had also began to push the notion that all you really needed is 16-bits. And Killer Instinct was the perfect vehicle for doing this.
As ineffective SEGA's SEGA CD push was, it was even worse for the 32X and the true successor to the Genesis, the Saturn paid the ultimate price. It floundered for a variety reasons, but sticking with an ad campaign that was already four years old did nobody any favors.