With Easter in the books, it is time to look forward to the next great American holiday: April Fool’s Day. It is one of my favorites, and not just for the office pranks. Remember when Jim put the stapler in Jell-o on The Office?
I also love that in recent years, marketers are embracing it too. Brands built on humor would be the obvious candidates for releasing a new campaign or faux product on April 1st. But for the most part, that is not who is doing it. The participating brands have definite personalities, but the products they are toying with are often very highly technical ones where a mistake or customer disappointment is no laughing matter.
Social media helps marketers announce, share, and spread their April Fools messages. Marketers can push out a blog post or still photo of the new product or campaign and make an impact quickly, thanks to influencers on Facebook and Twitter.
I am reminded of what Virgin Atlantic Airlines did in 2013. Via blog post written by founder Richard Branson published on their corporate website, Virgin made the incredibly authentic-looking announcement on March 28, a few days in advance of the Holiday.
The headline read: “Virgin Announces Glass Bottomed-Plane.” The announcement said that the glass bottoms would allow passengers to look into the center aisle, and see the landscape below. Ignore first whether a glass plane could fly, land, or hold cargo. Those details aside, what a neat idea: give passengers a better view than the little portholes now available in cramped coach class afford, if you even could see across the people seated between you and that teeny window. The post made its rounds on social media and Richard Branson himself did a little press on its behalf. It was revealed to be an April Fools joke a few days later.
Last year, another technologically complex product tried their hand at an April Fools announcement. Samsung announced the new Galaxy Blade Edge: Chef’s Edition. It was billed as the world’s first smart knife with smartphone capabilities. With edges so sharp, Samsung said the phone could be used as a kitchen knife as well as a smart phone.
Normally, there is an understanding of caveat emptor, buyer beware, in advertising, as well as in the relationship between buyer and seller. On April Fools Day I would add one more: caveat lector – let the reader or viewer beware.
Can’t get enough of April Fool’s? More on April Fools Day hoaxes: