Americans aren’t easily shocked. Thanks to a never-ending news cycle that constantly shoves bizarre headlines into the spotlight, we’re numb to the stories that would’ve knocked our grandparents’ socks off. What might’ve been barely believable 50 years ago hardly earns a shoulder shrug from most of us today.
So how can brands grab consumers’ attention this April Fools’ Day? It’ll definitely take some planning – and a stellar creative team that can walk the fine line between comedy and content.
Going completely off brand, even for a day, can have long-lasting, disastrous effects, so merely pulling a prank won’t cut it. Brands must devise a stunt that speaks to their overall message, while still exposing their fun side, the side that shoppers can connect with.
We did a little research and found some brands that made their April foolin’ look flawless. Here are a few of our favorites:
Although they’re in the taste bud-tickling business, Hamburger Helper pulled a prank that appealed to another one of the five senses. The boxed meal manufacturers dropped an epic rap album, with consumers’ thunderous applause declaring it a hit.
Speaking of taste buds, OpenTable created a fictional app that supposedly allowed users to taste food through their phone screens. While the “4-D lickable technology” didn’t do much for their rumbling stomachs, we guess you could say that consumers ate it up.
Quilted Northern couldn’t let April Fool’s Day pass without seizing the opportunity to showcase their creativity either. The time-honored TP brand crafted ads for artisanal toilet paper that viewers wouldn’t soon to be able to wipe from their memories.
Of course, there are plenty of April Fool’s Day marketing fails each year too.
Maybe you remember the stunt Taco Bell pulled in the ‘90s. The franchise launched full-page ads in major newspapers, reporting that they’d bought the Liberty Bell and renamed the national treasure “The Taco Liberty Bell.” Readers were not amused – as the National Park Service employees on the receiving end of those angry phone calls can confirm.
Google missed the mark as well in 2016 when it added a “mic drop button” to Gmail. This function pasted a GIF of a Minion character dropping a microphone into the email – not only figuratively ending the conversation, but disabling senders from seeing any replies. The button’s position next to the traditional send button resulted in a few mis-clicks – and allegedly cost some senders their jobs. Not cool, Google.
We plan to pull some good-natured shenanigans of our own here at the office, but promise to stop just short of pretending to purchase any historic monuments. And while we’re pretty good at planning pranks, we’re even better at devising marketing campaigns that get results.
If results are what you’re looking for, we’d love to meet you. No foolin’.