Today is the one day out of the year where pranksters get to do what they do best with little to no consequences for their actions while the rest of us live in a constant state of paranoia. What’s the best April Fool’s Day prank you have ever played on a friend, co-worker or family member? And if you’re willing to admit it, what’s the best prank you have ever fallen for? Let us know in the comments section below.
Your significant other and your co-workers aren’t the only ones who enjoy a good practical joke on a day like today. Companies want in on the prank planning, too. But why? They use this quirky holiday to engage with consumers and get people talking about their brand. Some release their pranks via social media while others go the more traditional route with print and radio advertisements. Regardless of media channel, the best pranks often get picked up by media outlets resulting in even greater exposure. Have you considered incorporating an April Fool’s Day prank into your advertising strategy? It might be worth the investment. Below is a sampling of some of the most talked about brand pranks delivered through the years.
Burger King: Left-Handed Whopper, 1998
We mentioned this prank in our post about National Hamburger Day last spring, but it’s too good not to mention in this prank-filled post. On April 1, 1998, Burger King ran a full page ad in USA Today introducing its new Left-Handed Whopper. That’s right; a burger made solely for our left-handed brethren. This BK newspaper ad was hugely successful and drove store traffic from lefties and righties alike, and people are still talking about it more than 15 years later.
Google: Nose, 2013
Google has been known to play a few tricks on the first of April. From adding a treasure map feature to Google Maps to developing an app that translates animal-speak, the company uses the holiday to draw attention to its sense of humor each year. My favorite Google prank is last year’s introduction of Google Nose, a feature developed to allow users to search for smells. Google promised users scents ranging from cookies to victory to the inside of an Egyptian tomb. While Google reigns as the most used search engine in the world, these attempts at prankvertising continue to keep it top of mind. What will they think of this year?
BBC: Flying Penguins, 2008
BBC has been planning April Fool’s Day pranks since the 1950s. Perhaps that’s why they were so successful in getting people to believe they had discovered a colony of penguins that could fly in 2008. Take a few minutes to watch the film trailer; I have to admit I was almost convinced.
While penguins can’t actually fly, they are quite capable of promoting the BBC iPlayer, as is evidenced by the film.
Scope: Bacon Mouthwash, 2013
P&G took advantage of the great American bacon craze last year with the introduction of Bacon Mouthwash "for breath that sizzles." Some of you were pretty upset about this little prank and expressed your distaste via social media. The Facebook posts and print ads claimed the bacon-flavored mouthwash could kill "99.9% of bad breath germs with 100% bacon taste." Is bacon breath any better than bad breath though? Sorry bacon lovers, but it’s all the same to me.
Head to the comments section of this post tomorrow to let us know what advertiser played the best prank in 2014. Thanks for reading and keep your eyes peeled for toilet seats covered in Saran Wrap or any of these little tricks. Also, there’s no time like the present to start thinking of next year’s practical joke.
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Hannah Hill is a marketing specialist at Mediaspace Solutions. Her marketing experience includes writing, inbound marketing, social media and event management. You can connect with Hannah on LinkedIn, Facebook or Google+.