Should brands pull pranks

So it’s that time of the year again when we watch out for the funniest and most convincing April Fool’s from friends, family and brands alike.

1st April brings about fake engagements, “free petrol” offers and the inventions of crazy, too-good-to-be-true products. While it is all a bit of innocent fun to take advantage of the more gullibly inclined among us, there is actually a great opportunity here for brands to show their sense of humour.

We list three of our favourites from the last few years as well as name our favourite April Fool of 2019!

So, without further ado, in third place is Oreo! Back in 2015, the cookie and confectionary giant made a play on their Double Stuf by ‘introducing’ the Double Crunch.

Containing the regular amount of their signature creme, this new biscuit was instead characterised by doubled up cookie on both top and bottom, see below:

This prank was actually more successful as a product focus group as opposed to a spoof as the majority of users replying to the Tweet were actually voicing their distress that this was not a real biscuit!

Overall, this stunt was a great and fun move by Oreo and we were glad to see them continue the tradition with this year’s double creme!

In second place is Durex’s ‘Infusions’ range, which had us in stitches. The condom company produced this campaign for April Fool’s Day in 2018 with a range of teas aimed at putting the “ooh in your brew”.

Durex used the ‘naugh-tea’, ‘flir-tea’, ‘lus-tea’ infusions as part of a blog post promoting good sleep and a healthy lifestyle.

They successfully leveraged the occasion to create a funny and pretty convincing asset that had the double use of linking back to their actual product range in the absence of these teas.

In the past, Durex played along the same lines when in 2017 they produced a new flavour range of condoms that supposedly included ‘Sunday Roast’, ‘Fish & Chips’ and perhaps, most notoriously, the ‘Tikka Masala’.

This year they continued in the same vein with colour changing condoms!

Brands that don’t take themselves too seriously are certainly the ones that come out on top when you look at their presence on social and ability to illicit a genuine chuckle from their audience.

And in first place is a high production collaboration between Uber and Toms shoes – the Shuber X. While the opening frames of this short explainer-film are very convincing, you do start to realise that the whole thing is a bit of a ruse.

Check out the full video from 2014 here:

 

With nearly 60,000 views, this April Fool’s joke was certainly one that was worth the time and effort, proving that this is a date ripe for the leveraging!

Playing on the whole sustainability angle, Uber suggest stripping back their brand so much that they omit the use of cars altogether, instead opting for a cardboard chassi and replacing the driver with a runner to guide the ‘passenger’.

But if you’re going to run everywhere, you’ll need suitable footwear! Which Toms are most definitely not when it comes to running around, but that’s a technicality at this point.

Ultimately, this campaign was a success because it paired comical product placement with an utterly ridiculous and off the wall idea.

Of course, these kind of pranks and spoofs work really well for consumer brands, but it might be harder if your business is in less of a position to exploit humour in the same way.

However, the only limitations are those that you set yourself! In 2017, insurance company ‘Progressive’ had a laugh with their clientele when they offered an insurance policy that covered you in outer-space: ‘Red Planet Protection’.

These are just a few examples of how brands can leverage the popular April Fool’s day to their advantage. It gives brands an opportunity to drive awareness, letting their consumers see that there are people behind the brand and, if done well, successful pranks can be a great way to promote new products.

With the nature of social media today, playing April Fool’s right could help a smaller, lesser known company gain visibility in the news and get themselves noticed. This could ultimately leave a lasting impression on their audience, generating more business in the future – all thanks to a day of silliness!

However, pulling the perfect prank isn’t for every brand and it won’t suit every company’s marketing techniques. It’s important to think about the game you are playing, is it still aligned with the message your company is trying to portray? Are you being funny without poking fun at your audience? If done well, the day could help your brand reap great results.

What are your favourite April Fools pranks over the last few years? We’d love to hear about them!

Our favourite of 2019 has to go to the Daily Star, who tried to convince readers that beer would be available on prescription from the NHS via an ‘intravenous drip’! If only!

https://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/768739/free-beer-nhs-stout-guinness-april-fool

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