We all know April Fools’ as the day where we question everything for fear of falling for a prank all in the name of humor. Although this day has been celebrated for several centuries by different cultures, its exact origins remain a mystery. April Fools’ Day, sometimes called All Fools’ Day, has become one of the most light-hearted days of the year. Even though the beginnings of the holiday are uncertain, many historians believe that it stems from the adoption of a new calendar; when France switched from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar. While the mystery behind April Fool’s Day remains, the way the holiday has been adapted and used as a marketing tool by brands is something to be appreciated. Without April Fool’s we would not be able to see what lengths brands go to reach us as consumers. Scott Monty, a marketing consultant at Ford, explains,
“Humor is one of the most difficult things to nail as far as a brand goes,” and it’s very true. “Everyone has a different sense of humor…there’s some people who appreciate sarcasm, some people who have a very dry sense of humor, some people who appreciate slapstick. So creating a single one-off April Fools’ Day means that you have to take all of that into account. And maybe it doesn’t hit any of those types of humor. It’s a bit of a crapshoot.”
This year, brands from all different industries participated in April Fools’ Day, coming up with creative pranks to cash in on the humorous holiday. Here are just a few examples of brands that got it right:
Google: Ms. Pac-Man Google Maps App & Google Gnome
Google got creative for its April Fools’ stunt this year; It added a Ms. Pac-Man icon on its Google Maps app. The addition instantly became a worldwide sensation, with articles coming out such as “5 Insanely Tough Google Maps Locations for Playing Ms. Pac-Man”. This fun addition allows you to turn your neighborhood streets into a real life game! Google also made a commercial promoting its “Google Gnome” poking fun at the original “Google Home”. The Gnome is essentially an outdoor smart assistant that helps you with everything outside your home. When it comes to April Fools’ humor, Google has hit the nail on the head.
Google isn’t the only tech company that had fun on April 1st, Amazon created their own advertisement for their prank, the “PetLexa”. “Petlexa gives pets the freedom to ask for food, place orders from Amazon, and activate smart home enabled toys,” the company said in a release last Friday.
CoffeeMate: Coffee Flavored Creamer
CoffeeMate made a press release for its new coffee flavored creamer, the brand stated, “For decades, we’ve stirred things up by introducing delicious, one-of-a-kind flavors like Caramel Macchiato and Italian Sweet Crème and now we’re excited to offer a creamer that makes your tasty cup of Joe taste even more like coffee! The new creamer is the perfect way to transform your everyday cup with a creamy, roast coffee taste. For our fans who have always dreamt of drinking coffee with a side of, well — coffee, we’ve got your back!” This is one of those ads that you almost believe; it doesn’t seem far-fetched but at the same time it’s questionable. This is the goal of prank ads.
It is clear that many brands have and will continue to participate in this yearly prankster tradition but at what cost? Could marketing in the name of fun be potentially damaging for companies? Does it create customer distrust? Brands who participate in the holiday must make sure it is appropriate for their brand and that they produce content that their customers will find funny. While this is not always easy to do, many companies have found the perfect balance of humor and creativity, allowing them to engage their customers while poking fun at themselves.