It’s a bit of an age-old tradition for brands (and media) to use April 1st as an opportunity to play pranks on the public, but did you get caught out this Easter Sunday? Did you peruse the headlines and think – hmm, chocolate burgers and sourdough coca cola, delicious! Or, wow – Prince Harry is having his stag do on a spiritual yurt retreat in Wales, that’s not like him! Or, like me, have you been caught out in the past and do you now cynically scan the papers each April 1st desperately searching for the gags?
Whether you spotted this year’s hoaxes or not, there were plenty, and despite this tradition going on for as long as I can remember, a number of brands (often the same ones!) continue to see April 1st as their chance to show off their sense of humour – all whilst vying for column inches and social shares along the way.
Personally I think a practical joke is highly unlikely to help meet your communications objectives, and as we’ve talked about in a recent blog, in a time of fake news, do we really want to focus on misleading people? It can also be a risky business, as an ill-advised gag that falls flat could do serious harm to a brand.
That said, it doesn’t seem to stop me curiously checking out what intentional ‘fake news’ has graced the papers each year.
So, if April Fools completely passed you by, and you’re now wandering around thinking Trump quit Twitter or worse, you’re considering buying some ‘flirt-tea’ tea from Durex then it’s probably worth a quick recap of some of the stories that made the headlines.
The Observer ran with its own topical Brexit-themed prank this year, reporting that an Italian firm was going to cash in on creating official Brexit and Remain emojis. Nicknamed the ‘Brexit Bulldog’ and ‘Starry Blue,’ people would be able to use the emojis to give their social media profiles a ‘brand identity.’ This one even fooled BBC Breakfast presenters live on air, but the clue was in the by-line, Scherzo Primavera (Italian for Spring joke!) The Predictable:
It wouldn’t be April Fools without some weird and wonderful new food or flavours. Chocolate was the theme this year (given it was Easter Sunday), and Burger King jumped on the bandwagon unveiling its new chocolate Whopper burger – delicious! Well, marginally more tasty than the sound of Heinz’s chocolate mayonnaise… Coke also got involved, and the Sunday Mirror ran with a story saying it had released three new flavours aimed at the ‘brunch-loving, super-food-snacking millennial.’ These included avocado, sourdough and wait for it – charcoal. The Comedic:
My personal favourite. SodaStream released SodaSoak, a widget that lets you carbonate your bath (with different levels of carbonation!) and add different delicious fruit flavours. Using Shahs of Sunset celeb Reza Farahan, they released an amusing advert for the product with Reza lying in a fizzy strawberry bath, showing us a whole new way to enjoy sparkling water. The Silly:
I’m pretty gullible but this was a bit too far-fetched even for me. Kraken rum reported a sighting of a 14 metre-long Kraken (giant squid) in the Thames. The giant black cephalopod made a BBC breaking news report presented by Michael Buerk, and you can see it floating past, having climbed on board a pleasure cruiser! The Creative:
Richard Branson is well-known for getting involved in April fool’s pranks, so it’s no surprise to see Virgin joining in. This year saw the launch of the world’s very first in-flight cycling studio with different classes tailored to suit different passengers, from the ‘Jetlag Buster’ to the more relaxed ‘Cruise in the Clouds’ workout. Actually not totally unbelievable! There’s no denying it is all a bit of good fun, but as a tool to deliver real results, I’m not convinced!
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