An April Fools Round-Up – The Good, The Bad and Is It Ever Worth It?
Brands have been using the April Fools to prank and experiment with innovative campaigns for years and years, with fake foods, fake products, funny spins on their products and more!
Brands have genuinely experienced the highs and the lows of utilising April Fools for their marketing. Here are some of the best and the worst April Fool’s campaigns we’ve seen, and we look to answer the question, is it worth the risk?
April Fools Campaigns That Worked
Have you ever wanted your own face on a burger? In 2018, McDonald’s made consumers think that was finally possible and introduced #MyBigMac. The company offered to put one of your selfies onto the Big Mac bun!
McDonald’s released a video showing how this can be done (actually not). All that’s required is to:
- Take a selfie using their app or use a kiosk in the restaurant to do it.
- Then once your seeds have finished designing your selfie, your burger will be available at the counter.
- Then there’s a social media plugin allowing you to share your creation on Instagram etc.
Click here to see the campaign.
Remember the 2018 April Fools campaign from Coca-Cola? They launched 3 new flavours to appeal to the “Instagram generation”, which featured: avocado, sourdough, and charcoal.
As per Coca-Cola, “Not only do they promise to be the perfect tasty, sugar-free refreshment, but they’ll also double-up as the ideal accessory for any brunchtime social media photo – guaranteed to see the ‘likes’ rolling in.”
Ever heard of Smoup? Well, now you have! Smoup is the result of Heinz and Innocent collaborating on their two most famous products to create a brand-new product!
So what is smoup?
Great question! Its Heinz tomato soup and Innocent’s strawberry and banana smoothie to create a fairly disturbing smoothie flavour.
Innocent’s head of good ideas, Anna Clare, said: “Liquid fruit plus liquid veg? It’s liquid gold. Drink it hot, drink it cold, drink it with a spoon, dip bread in it…” Well, that certainly is food for thought! Click here to see the campaign
April Fools Campaigns That Backfired:
In 2021 Volkswagen released a campaign that completely missed the mark. They announced that they were going to change their US division’s name to ‘Voltswagen’.
According to a tweet from VW’s official account. “Introducing Voltswagen. Similar to Volkswagen, but with a renewed focus on electric driving. Starting with our all-new, all-electric SUV the ID.4 – available today.”
Within just a day “Voltswagen” had been mentioned 6,045 times—on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Reddit, news sites and blogs—and reached 150 million people. However, many have criticised Volkswagen for misleading the public.
Later, the company revealed this was a joke in the spirit of April Fools’ Day! According to CNN, this joke might have put VW at serious risk, as it could’ve run afoul of US securities law as it’s potentially misleading the investors.
On the 1st of April 2016, Gmail users worldwide woke up to find a new feature in their emailing software called ‘Drop Mic’.
In an apparent homage to 1980s rap, the tool could be sent to immediately close and silence an email thread. To make matters more confusing, it also sent a small animation of a minion character from the film Despicable Me.
Stupidly, Google’s product designers put their new icon next to the ‘Send’ button. This obvious recipe for disaster led to some admittedly funny stories. People began to vent on social media that they had accidentally attached the image of a minion to a multi-million-pound client contract.
But soon, amusement was replaced by annoyance. The mistakes turned more serious. One forum user even claimed to have lost their job as a result.
Global food-delivery company, Deliveroo bit off more than it could chew with its April Fools’ Day joke in 2021.
For unknown and unfathomable reasons, the firm sent thousands of customers in France fake receipts for pizzas they had never ordered. Making things far, far worse, each order totalled just under €450 (£380).
Dozens of panicked recipients tried to call their banks, reasonably assuming that their accounts had been hacked, until Deliveroo France issued a statement on Twitter to apologise.
To April Fool or Not To April Fool – Is It Worth The Risk?
The key to it all is audience understanding. Knowing who your consumers are beyond the surface metrics is so essential as audience metrics shift constantly. It is crucial to understand who is following you, whether they’re your target market or how they feel about all kinds of topics, including April Fool’s Day.
Here are a few key points from CMI that can help you decide whether it’s for you:
- If your brand has never used humour or the element of surprise in its content, don’t do it.
- If your brand thinks of April Fools as a one-day joke, don’t do it.
- If your brand isn’t prepared to devote significant resources to develop a thoughtful, well-executed campaign, don’t do it.
- If your brand leaders can’t weather criticism, don’t do it.
If none of these statements relates to your brand, then it’s probably a good idea to give April Fools a try, as your brand is already in a position to take on less risk, as you’re way more prepared to experiment with new, not by-the-book ideas!
To summarise, we think April Fools is a significant marketing date for many brands already creating and posting funny content and playing around with unconventional ideas; this way, their April Fools campaigns will be much better received from their audience. For example, Ryan Air has a much bigger chance of success with an April Fools campaign than a brand such as Porsche would.
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