April Fool’s Day Campaigns For Brands – Yay or Nay!

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April fool’s day just went by and like every year, it was an opportunity for brands to leverage the hype with out-of-the-box content. It gave a chance to creative teams to shed their inhibitions and do something fun and bizarre :). But do all brands get it right? Of course not, especially in today’s digital world. Today, the organic reach of a campaign is beyond a marketer’s control. The reach of social media channels can prove to be a bane or a boon. A marketer can use the right hashtags, cash in on a trend like ‘April Fool’s Day’, use memes, use reels, and influencers – and a campaign might still tank. At the same time, a simple idea can go viral, the Fearless Girl campaign is a classic example of such. Even after four years of its launch the impact of the campaign still continues.

Like every year, this April Fool’s day too, many brands came up with quirky campaigns. Some got it right, some did not. For instance, prior to two days of April Fool’s Day, Volkswagen announced changing its name to Voltswagen, conveying its commitment towards the Electric Vehicles segment. While the prank was not wrong, the timing was. The company had to accept that it was a premature joke prior to April Fool’s Day after a segment of press got disappointed knowing that it was just a prank.

There are brands that did hit the bull’s eye though. Take for example – Special Broadcasting Service, the broadcaster took advantage of two trends – the OTT and April Fool’s Day. It announced (of course fake) SBS On Demand platform that has the latest and greatest of technologies like – ahem… scene grading, which enables the viewer to change the scene background, the Fun-on-demand technology that makes it suitable for the entire family to watch a show. It can replace a knife in the actor’s hand to… wait..for..it… a hairbrush! The icing on the cake was the U-on-demand feature that uses ‘deep fake’ technology (why not!) to replace the actor’s face with the viewers’. Watch the SBS-On-Demand campaign here.

Another campaign from this year that was at a sweet spot was the – Lipton’s Self Jiggling Bags with bag jiggle technology for even infusion and dispersion of milk. The brand managed to make the prank all about its product and did not go overboard with it.

Some brands consistently do a great job integrating April Fool’s Day with their brand’s ethos. Take for example Tinder in 2019 announced a fake ‘height verification’ feature. The insight was simple, most men lie about their height on their dating profiles 🙂

Ola ( a leading ride-sharing company in India) has successfully created ‘believable’ April Fool’s Day pranks in the past. Be it Ola helicopter service or the Ola mobile restroom service.

This year, the company announced Ola AirPro – world’s first driverless and electric air car! A prank somewhat similar to their earlier helicopter one. Ola is getting into electric scooters segment and building the largest electric scooters’ manufacturing unit. Perhaps, this year’s prank was in line with the company’s soaring electric vehicle ambitions.

These are extraordinary times and brands that are known for their April Fool’s Day communication, stayed away this year. Google did not have an April Fool’s Day campaign in 2020 and this year too, given the pandemic situation. But, their ‘Screen Cleaner feature’ prank did steal the show in 2019. Since 2019, Microsoft had put a blanket ban on April Fool’s Day pranks, since they believe that brands have more to lose with such pranks. A case in point is Google adding the Despicable Me minions emojis to Gmail, for which the brand had to apologize.

Is April Fool’s Day suited for every brand, or is the right time for such? that is debatable. But if done right, these campaigns can garner much sought-after ‘visibility’ for brands across mediums. In 2019, Burger King partnered with Clio Awards to create a challenge for students to come up with an innovative April Fool’s Day campaign.

“April Fools’ has become a major date for Burger King and our campaigns have generated massive engagement with a younger, and often harder to reach, audience.” – Fernando Machado, Burger King global, chief marketing officer.

April Fool’s Day can be a great opportunity for brands to experiment and create a buzz. But brands will have to keep in mind consumer sensibilities too, more so in today’s era of social media. Integrating the brand proposition without going overboard with it and clean humor can be the simple ingredients that can bring a smile to the consumer’s face and make the campaign memorable.

Surabhi Ghosh Chatterjee
Surabhi is Marketing Communications Manager at Robosoft Technologies with an extensive experience in B2B marketing in the tech domain. She is a keen follower of all that is trending in the world of mobile, digital marketing & technology and loves to read and write about the developments happening in these domains.

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