April Fools Day Marketing – Costly Quirk or Good Brand Salience?

4 Apr

April Fools day is slowly growing a reputation somewhat like the Super Bowl where the public is searching suspiciously for ads placed by companies that are marketing a quirky, false product in the hopes of tricking people into a giggle. It is probably the one day of the year that people actually read every ad in the paper in the hopes of finding a joke. Lets face it, Aussies in particular like people and companies that are able to poke fun at themselves.

There were some pretty good ones this year and I myself took a last minute stab at the April Fools hoax marketing quirk. I’m not a PR manager so I do my best in a small company to cover all communications bases as best I can with my very tight budget.

I took to Facebook and thought it would be funny to post that we had launched a new product made with really gross ingredients. I was a bit scared that my idea may be taken the wrong way by our Facebook fans that I have lovingly tried so hard to build. I explained why each ingredient was beneficial to health (remember I work in the health food industry) and to my amazement one of our industry bodies saw my post and commented on how delicious it sounded. I laughed because surely they realised it was April Fools day and there would be no way that we would actually make a product that bizzare. We do use some innovative ingredients but nothing this crazy. Then some real fans commented and I hoped they realised it was a joke.

I thought that since many other companies were gaining some promotion with their quirky April Fools day ads that perhaps I could send a press release to the media and see if I could get some coverage. I left it pretty late but I got it in at around 10am…. the more prepared big brands obviously had their PR companies organise it all the day or days before. Nobody called me sadly and I really really hope that the media outlets didn’t think that product was real. My press release was pretty funny I thought and I covered some entertaining points.

Finally 11am came so I was able to confirm that yes, this indeed had been an April Fools joke. I later spoke to a representative from the industry body that had commented on how delicious it sounded and she mentioned that everyone in their office were trying to imagine how it would have tasted. I assured her it would have tasted gross.

Artline had a rather large ad in The Australian advertising a Tweeter 140 that sent tweets as you wrote. They supported their advertising investment with a twitter page focusing on it for the day.

Blackberry launched a Blackberry without a screen

Krispy Kream placed a job ad looking for Donut Hole Punchers to be paid a whopping $110k

Yahoo!7 posted a doctored picture of what appeared to me Nessie in Sydney Harbour

Air New Zealand launched Pay What You weigh (on a side note I love Air New Zealand! They have social media and modern day brand personality quirkiness down pat. They also have great service)

Youtube launched a feature to make videos look grainy just like when they launched the service 100 years ago… but hang on a minute Youtube has only been going for under a decade.

Ikea launched a highchair for a dog which seemed to be everyones favourite.

I think a company can create some good traction with a well planned April Fools day campaign. Everyone will be talking about the brand and thats worth the money isn’t it. Even better if you can get media attention without a lot of expense. If you can use the joke to build your data bases, Twitter followers or Facebook fans then you really win from the attention in the long run when you have a real message to tell everyone.

Note To Self: Next year create a hoax that I have been taken by aliens and post pictures of myself around the city coloured green. I’m not sure what benefit that would bring but it would be funny to me if nobody else.


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