The 1st April is always a good time to generate PR and to get people talking about your organisation ,so there’s no wonder as to why so many brands are getting on board these days. April Fools posts often go viral and spark a lot of conversation, which ultimately links back to your brand. Not only this, but everybody loves a good lighthearted company who doesn’t take themselves too seriously and the 1st April is a brilliant time to showcase your witty sense of humor to the world.
1st April, 2018
This year I saw tons of April Fools jokes online, some were even the product of social media paid promos which showed that brands were really getting in to it. Any brand who put time and energy in to a April Fools this year gets a big thumbs up for me, but here’s my round up of the showstopper stunts that this year brought us.
Google really thought big this year and they get an A+ for creativity. Really, i’m super jealous of their PR/Marketing team for this one as it was so unique and so effective.
If you’ve no idea what i’m on about, then Google’s ‘where’s Wally/Waldo’ stunt probably escaped your notice (somehow). What they did was pretty self explanatory, they included various ‘Wally’s’ some human, some not, in various locations worldwide for eagle-eyed viewers to seek out. Though this wasn’t much of a surprise (as Google announced the impending prank days before), it was still a remarkably well thought out and executed campaign and something I can truly applaud.
This April Fools campaign was truly one of my favourites as not only did it get people talking about it, it also drew people in to actually interact with the business. I don’t doubt that the 1st April saw Google Map’s user count soar and they certainly would have got people talking about them. Google truly ticked off every box with this stunt so hats off to them.
The American market hoster and development business, Yelp, was certainly another brand that would get a big thumbs up for their creativity this year.
The prank basically saw users being faced with a dudd cracked screen as they opened the app. Something that definitely has the initial shock factor for sure. This isn’t a longstanding prank, but it’s certainly an effective one.; the April Fools joke had many users taking to Twitter to express their initial shock. It is this exact activity that is a PR tactic in itself; to get people to talk about your brand (especially on social media) is one of the most powerful PR movements in this day and age. Word of mouth is credited to to be the epitome of PR and the best way in which this can be executed is on social media, where the whole world is free to get involved.
Head & Shoulders
Though this wasn’t a groundbreaking prank that got like, the whole world, talking about it. I did personally really admire what Head & Shoulders shampoo had to offer us this year.
I liked this campaign as, from a PR point of view, it did really well in promoting its product. Whilst the proposed product was of course, a phony, it did have strikingly remarkable similarities to its ‘real life’ counterpart. This worked as free advertising for the brand, as the brand image and even general product design was shared for the world to see, yet the slight switch up of graphics in honor of April Fools meant it got more people talking about it than a standard product promo ever would.
Although this isn’t a huge brand in comparison to some that made this list, Popchips really aced the act of picking up on modern day trends and utilising them to their advantage.
For some reason, ‘unicorns’ as a product have blown up in the past year or so and the amount of related products I walk past every day is spectacular.
This stunt, therefore, is a really good example of a brand knowing what’s popular in the present day and honing in on it. Though I wouldn’t credit this as the most creative campaign I’ve ever seen, I don’t doubt that it certainly gathered a lot of interest due to its nature and what more, it’s somewhat believable too which probably generated conversation even more so.
Snapchat combined April Fools Day with a good old fashioned competitor dig, and I can’t make up my mind on this one but thought it warranted a place on the list nevertheless.
Snapchat took a dig at Facebook for the day, introducing a filter in which you could overlay your photo with a frame that made it look like it was being liked by Russian bots. Clever or controversial? I can’t decide, what do you think? One thing’s for certain, it sure got people talking about the brand (for better or for worse), however with Snapchat’s 2018 slip ups, they really ought to be careful with the controversy.
Coca Cola did something clever this year with their April Fools gag. They have recently released 3 new flavors of their lesser-performing product, Diet Coke (you can read about it here). Their April Fools this year took the parallel approach.
Their mocku-up flavors were an apparent attempt to target millennials and their favorite flavors of this century. This for one raised a lot of interest (and eyebrows); the diversity of the flavors meant that a lot of people sussed that the stunt was nothing more than that, a stunt. Nevertheless, the joke generated a lot of interest and engagement with Coca Cola, and gave them the perfect opportunity to promote the three new products that they are actually bringing out. Great PR from them!
And finally, a brand that presents a perfect awareness of seasonal situation: Burger King.
The famous fast food brand announced that to honor Easter, they’d be bringing out a ‘chocolate whopper’. The product, of course, was nothing more than an April Fools prank yet certainly gained a lot of believers (and thus attention to the brand). A joke is always better executed when it contains elements of the truth, and Burger King exampled this prolifically by paying attention to its external environment and honing in on this.
2018 saw a great effort from brands and I can’t wait to see what next year brings.
And what happens when it doesn’t go to plan?
Of course, April Fools is a risky game and a business should only execute a prank knowing they can pull it off effectively (and not hurt anybody in the process).
(If only everybody learned from Spongebob, ey?)
A Mayor from Northern France was forced to apologize after announcing to locals that a new Ikea would be built, creating 4000 jobs, only to later reveal it was nothing more than a prank. The town in which the joke was played on is well known in France for high unemployment rates and for being one of the poorer regions of the country, making this notorious un poisson d’avril (April Fools) incredibly bitter sweet.
The Major in question, Ms Cayeux, confessed that the exercise was not a total success and promised: “we’ll do better next year.”
The moral of the story is: if you’re going to trick someone, be sure not to hurt, upset or offend them. April Fools is a great PR opportunity, but can also go horrifically wrong so businesses need to be extremely careful with them. Take notes for next year.