Best April Fools’ Marketing Pranks
You shouldn’t always believe the headlines, but on 1st April you should be even more sceptical.
We’ve rounded up some of our favourite foolings, featuring smart brands that have thought outside the box for April Fools’ Day to poke fun at themselves (or their rivals).
The Drum – #shabbycab
Marketing publication, The Drum took fire at its competitors in 2014 with the #shabbycab campaign in London. Two beaten up old black cabs were painted with the logos ‘Marketing Weak’ and ‘Campain’ and the hashtag #shabbycab, as a dig at its rival publications. These cabs were loaded onto pick-up trucks with The Drum branding and driven around the City, followed by a pristine taxi, also featuring The Drum branding, being driven by Editor, Gordon Young.
Underhanded? Possibly. Funny? Definitely.
Deliveroo – Telepathic food ordering
Apps have made it easier than ever to get food on demand. But what if you didn’t even have to lift a finger to order food from your favourite restaurant? Last year, Deliveroo announced that they’d teamed up with leading neuroscientists to launch a new technology which allows customers to use the Deliveroo app using their brainwaves alone. The technology could reportedly detect what food the user is craving, even if they aren’t sure themselves.
Amazon – 1999 retro website
Amazon went nostalgic in 2015 and reset its website to the 1999 version, featuring Times New Roman and pixelated images everywhere. But the online giant made it obvious the redesign was just a prank by having the top listings as prank-related products. Thankfully, clicking on any link, refreshed the site back to normal.
Petco – Dog selfie stick
On 1st April, pet supplies company, Petco, announced the release of a new product: a dog selfie stick. Simply attach a selfie stick to a harness on your pet and they can take pictures of themselves, activating the phone camera via bark or meow.
It’s not real, but we know a lot of people who wish it was.
Barclays – PayWag contactless payments for dogs
Another dog-themed fake campaign, Barclays ‘launched’ a trial of PayWag, a payment system that inserts a mini contactless card inside a dog’s collar so that your pet can make it’s own payment. There was a great promotional video to accompany the campaign, featuring Smiler the dog who buys his own toy at the supermarket. It does bring up a good point that it’s handy if the owner has their hands full, or is out for a jog with the dog and doesn’t have their purse on them and wants to buy something.
Honda – Emoji registration plates
In 2015, Honda claimed that research had revealed that young drivers want “a new kind of plate” for their cars. So they introduced emoji number plates. “In research conducted with UK consumers earlier this year, 96% of respondents aged under 30 indicated a preference for emoji plates over the traditional car license plate,” revealed their press release.
Several motoring publications picked up the story, providing good press coverage for Honda. Although, some eagle-eyed journalists noticed that Sigastu Baka, the First Officer of Licenses at Honda, literally translates to ‘April Fool’s’. Nice touch, Honda!
Google – Google Nose
Have you ever wished you could search for a specific smell? Well with Google Nose, you could do just that. Google Nose BETA promised “to offer the sharpest olfactory experience available”, using technology that: “temporarily aligns molecules to emulate a particular scent.”
Google and Virgin – Project Virgle: Mars Expedition
Back in 2008, two of the biggest brands on the planet, Google and Virgin, joined forces to take over a new planet as they announced Project Virgle, a project to set up a colony on Mars. “Some people are calling Virgle an ‘interplanetary Noah’s Ark,’” said Virgin Group President and Founder Sir Richard Branson, who conceived the new venture. “I’m one of them. It’s a potentially remarkable business, but more than that, it’s a glorious adventure.” They were holding open interviews for people who wanted to join the mission by completing an online questionnaire and a video submission.
While Virgin Galactic is a real thing, they are first aiming for the moon and it remains to be seen if they will look to travel any further into space.
April Fool’s pranks are a risky business for brands, and there are more horror stories out there than PR successes. So, which brands will be brave enough to raise the bar this year?