April Fools can be a source of great PR, showing your brand to be unique, playful and interesting. Companies such as Virgin, Churchill and Google are consistent players each year, with increasingly ridiculous pranks, each aligned with their brand and just believable enough to hook customers.
But, the important thing, as Google discovered today, is knowing where the line is and how to tickle your customers, not tick them off.
Many seem so intent on finding a joke they forget that, if positioned incorrectly, it can be detrimental to brand image. The joke must be thought out; aligned to the brand and the customers, it must work (looking at you Google), and it must be light-hearted, no one wants a joke that’s over the top or in bad taste. If it isn’t all those things then it’s better for a brand to just give it a miss.
Another brand that got it wrong today comes from that app that keeps dragging up your past, TimeHop, who today ‘tricked’ users by updating them on their future self. Whilst it was a clever twist on their usual service, what wasn’t clever was its implementation. The problem was that I thought it was some horrible new update sharing predictions of social media in the future. It also wasn’t at all personalised so many of my ‘future self’s statuses’ were not even close to things I’d say. And, the biggest flaw, I actually didn’t get that it was supposed to be tricking me because it so obviously wasn’t real. A huge fail by the throwback app in my opinion.
Of course, if done right, April Fools can have a great pay off. Here’s a list of my top 5 personal favourite April Fools jokes by brands.
Churchill’s ‘Éau Yes’
I like this just because of the play on words, and it seems every person and their dog are releasing fragrances, so why not this dog? The fragrance even came with added smell insurance, promising to give you compliments if the fragrance failed to attract compliments from others.
Tesco’s bouncy aisles
I desperately wanted this to be true last year. Being a short person I know the pain of products on high shelves. What made this joke though is that they did acknowledge this was a problem but also conveyed how difficult it would be to solve. After all, trampolines down small aisles aren’t exactly easily approved health and safety wise.
British Milk Council – “Unicorn milk”
The thing with this one is that they did take the advice of ‘if you can’t then don’t’ but yet still found a way to engage and make people laugh. The sarcasm and cynicism of the message puts a spin on the usual silliness and gives it that dry British edge. It also represents how predictable brands doing April Fools is now and the, almost forced, nature as a result. It worked brilliantly and has already seen them feature in lists for great April Fools responses.
Again, I think I liked this one because I wished it was real but also because it totally seems like something they’d do. After all, they really did put hot dogs into pizza crusts so why not edible boxes?
Microsoft Office: Return of ‘Clippy’
Many of us remember Clippy with a mix of infamy and nostalgia and that’s why the return of Clippy was so funny. People wanted it to happen but also remembered quickly how incredibly irritating he was. Perfectly aligned with the brand and spot on humour for the day.