April Fool’s Day: A Lesson in Creativity for Brands

Kaley Maltz
March 27, 2019

Ah yes, April Fool’s Day. A day where your favorite band announces their official break up, your beloved chip brand introduces a new disturbing flavor, and your company decides to open an office on planet Jupiter. Without fail, you’re bound to be bamboozled or at least forced to question what’s real and what’s simply a hoax. On this day, no information on the internet can be fully trusted.

Thanks to social media, this holiday for pranksters has extended far beyond household tomfoolery and friendly tricks among colleagues—now everyone can get in on the joke.

On April 1st, tweeters and ‘grammers can always expect to see some creative (and sometimes awful) attempts at elaborate brand pranks. Why? It’s a time for companies to get creative and gives them the opportunity to gain massive exposure.

I love seeing how creative teams roll out their April Fool’s pranks, mostly because I think it’s a great test of a brand’s ability to think outside the box. Everyone gets to shoot their shot, but it’s a contest of whose campaign sticks out in an oversaturated market.

Let’s get to the good stuff: brands who did it right.

April Fool’s Gold

What I respect about this stunt is that it’s elaborate and that it involves Seth Rogen. Boom. I’m on board. Obviously, this is a joke and isn’t meant to fool anyone. It’s the ridiculousness that makes it a home run. Bonus points for making a video. I mean come on, when you’re Netflix you better bring some good content.

Visually, this post is enchanting; who wouldn’t want to sip beer out of a fresh orange? They introduced “fruiticulturists” so nonchalantly that I was forced to question if it was a niche occupation for fruit lovers. Bravo, Blue Moon.

As a brand with dozens of variations, Oreo can be a polarizing cookie. The best flavor, proper stuff status, and eating style are all up for debate. Though this prank is soul-crushing to me (because I so wish it were true), it’s genius. Haven’t we stuffed Oreos enough? Give me more cookie, damnit!

Here are a few more that deserve honorable mentions:

It’s not all about the images or videos (although a high production value doesn’t hurt), it’s also about the angle that you take and how the joke relates to your brand. And now, let’s discuss some total flops.

We Pity These Fools

Woof. Hooters, must I explain why this joke actually makes you look even more sexist and creepy than you already are? Sit down, this is not the holiday for your brand. NEXT.

YIKES. If I could delete this video from existence, I would (not to be dramatic). This is an SNL skit gone wrong, and just about a year too late (Harambe was a trending topic in May 2016, just in case you forgot). Although elaborate, I give this video an absolute thumbs down. It’s a total stretch. My advice? Do less.

Yawn. Although this stunt isn’t cringe-worthy like the Harambed, it falls short of funny and very short of purposeful. Take a lesson from Netflix, Roku.

Sure, jokes are subjective (especially on social media); maybe you disagree with my disdain for the Hooters prank, and you find the Burger King hoax to be overplayed. But it’s important to break down what tends to work, and what doesn’t when it comes to brands putting all of their funny eggs into one basket.

When brands unveil an elaborate scheme on April Fool’s Day, the most successful jokes tend to have: solid visuals, a touch of ridiculousness, a sense of self-awareness, and culturally relevant humor. Too much of one of those ingredients can ruin a good thing. Beware!

As joke judgement day approaches, I can’t wait to see what brands have brewing. Get your Twitter fingers ready, there will be plenty to discuss.