What once was celebrated with whoopee cushions and snakes in nut cans, has given way to more sophisticated tomfoolery as big brands have gotten in on the April Fool’s Day action. From tech to textiles, brands are producing elaborate videos, joke product releases and re-skinning their websites to leverage the holiday to connect with consumers.
Faux product innovation was the most popular vehicle for April Fools’ Day gags in the brand world. Brands made the most of the day, capitalizing on inexpensive social media messaging and harnessing internet culture (i.e. an affinity for all things cats, bacon and funny videos) in hopes their efforts would go viral.
At the top of the list are the usual suspects, tech brands like Google, Hulu, Twitter and Vimeo are prolific pranksters upping the ante every year. This year, Google unveiled Google Nose, a searchable database of smells; ever wonder what a wet dog smells like on a hot summer day in Austin, Texas? Google Nose can answer that.
YouTube’s prank called on the power of memes and viral videos past to announce they’re shutting down. For April Fools’, the video sharing site used internet sensations like Antoine Dodson of ‘Bedroom Intruder’ fame, David of ‘David After Dentist’ and the brothers of ‘Charlie Bit Me’ to explain it was all just a big contest. Every video was an entry and now they’re shutting down to judge which clip will reign supreme as the Best YouTube Video of All Time. Other Google services, like Google Maps, Google Analytics and Gmail all had their own respective pranks to share.
Outside of the stable of Google products, rival video sharing service Vimeo became Vimeow, a new cat-themed, re-skinned version of the site. Hulu promoted shows-within-shows, like the Simpson’s Itchy and Scratchy show and Community’s Inspector Spacetime, as new viewing options. Meanwhile, Twitter returned to its vowel-less roots, reverting to Twttr in name and providing a generator that allowed users to see how their tweets, devoid of A, E, I, O and U, would look. Answer: Prtty mch th sam.
Tech brands aren’t the only ones in on the fun, fashion brand Bonobos launched their new line of ‘girlfriend jeans’ for men with a funny video and a dummy product page. While automaker BMW decided to tap the Generation Z market with a luxury stroller that’s fit for baby royalty called P.R.A.M.
Virgin Atlantic with all their real innovation (see: airplanes in space) made consumers think twice with their debut of a glass-bottomed airliner to give every passenger a window seat. For giggles, Sony moved into the pet category with their launch of a new product line called Animalia; think headphones for kitties.
And much to the disappointment of pork fans everywhere, P&G’s bacon-flavored Scope mouthwash isn’t real and put your Allen wrenches away because IKEA’s self-assembly lawnmower isn’t coming to a store near you.
The gags that met the warmest reception with consumers were those that utilized cultural insights to ensure message relevance. Brands with a finger on the pulse of internet culture benefited the most when their April Fools’ marketing tactics resonated with their audience in the social sphere.