April Fools!

I would bet that we each have a memorable April Fools prank that we can remember. Some of us might have fallen for a silly April Fools prank by a spouse or friend, and others victim to companies using social media channels to prank us all. Last year there were several companies that used media channels to create pranks on April 1. Honda announced the Honda HR-V SLFScreen Shot 2016-03-27 at 9.10.39 PM, the first car to install selfie cameras in the car taking photos that can
be uploaded to social media (CNBC, 2015). Amazon re-skinned their homepage circa 1999 and showed
products that could be used for a good prank (CNBC, 2015). Netflix, Samsung, Google, Groupon and Sony even got in on the fun and many consumers got a good la
ugh last year with these fun digital pranks (CNBC, 2015).

Back in 1998, Burger King introduced the left-handed Whopper for the 32 million left Screen Shot 2016-03-27 at 9.01.10 PMhanded customers in the US with a print advertisement (Yoon, 2016). The burger was exactly the same as the existing Whopper, but the “condiments were rotated to 180 degrees,” (Yoon, 2016, para. 16). Customers came in in droves to ask for the new burger and a lot of customers asked for the right-handed burger as well (Yoon, 2016). It’s actually funny to imagine how this went over with customers actually believing the Whopper could be right or left handed.

Let’s take a look back to how April 1st came to be April Fools day. April fools dates back to 1582 when Pope Gregory XIII decided that the calendar should be changed to the Gregorian calendar, moving New Years Day from March 31 to January 1 (Stack, 2014). The change in the calendar was widely publicized, but there were still people that did not get the message and they continued to celebrate on April 1 (Stack, 2014). Those folks were ridiculed and seen as foolish, called April Fools (Stack, 2014). And 434 years later, we still celebrate April Fools.

I’m one of those people that get’s a pit in my stomach as the day approaches. I know that I won’t get pranked by my family, but do tend to be gullible and always think ‘what if I do get pranked’ would I make a fool of myself? So, I ask all of you- do you have a good April Fools prank story? What companies do you think will be pulling pranks in marketing channels on Friday?

References:

CNBC, (2015). The best corporate April Fools’ Day pranks of 2015. CNBC. Retrieved from: http://www.cnbc.com/2015/04/01/rporate-april-fools-day-pranks-of-2015.html?slide=9

Stack, P.F. (2014). April Fool’s Day 2014: Religious Origins Of The World’s Silliest Holiday. Huffpost Religion. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/31/april-fools-day-2014_n_5045190.html

Yoon, F (2016). Top 10 April Fool’s Day pranks played by the media, The Star Online. Retrieved from: http://www.thestar.com.my/metro/focus/2016/03/26/top-10-april-fools-day-pranks-played-by-the-media-with-april-1-just-days-away-starmetro-takes-a-look/

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4 Responses to April Fools!

  1. Elizabeth says:

    This was a fun post to read for sure! I didn’t know the origins of April Fools, and now I do. 🙂

    It’s definitely a good opportunity to maximize on the day and it can really provide an opportunity for something to go viral.

    I always think about how Google is great at pranking:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Google_April_Fools%27_Day_hoaxes

    This could be considered somewhat of a prank, but it’s available all year long. Have you heard of this? http://lmgtfy.com
    It’s hilarious! My old friend would always ask my these dumb questions that she could easily find out herself online! For example, she said: “What’s playing at City Walk AMC?” I sent here this, and I got a kick out of it and she was like, “OH, I could’ve done that too!” lol POINT MADE! http://bfy.tw/506h

  2. Chen-Chih says:

    Wow Stephanie! Thanks for the extremely interesting piece on April Fool’s Day. I never knew that about the history, but now I am glad I do. In terms of how it relates to marketing, I also didn’t know companies tried to get in on April Fool’s pranks too, but it definitely doesn’t surprise me. It is both refreshing (because it shows the good humored side of corporations) and distressing (because it makes you realize that companies literally use almost any holiday/celebration/event as an excuse for marketing).
    Great job.

  3. juvenalq says:

    Thanks for the interesting post. I’m all for a good laugh and think pranks on behalf of companies have a time and a place, such as on social media. However, I know people who dislike pranks and have an anti-April Fools’ spirit. One of the arguments they often make is that publishing any joke is a dishonor to audiences. I would be curious to hear your thoughts on how businesses think through the benefits versus the repercussions of attempting a company prank. Are there other creative ways for companies to showcase their humor and personality?

  4. Camille says:

    Thank you for this post, I thought it was especially relevant as just this morning a few of my friends messaged me asking if I had heard Trader Joes was planning to close by 2017 (http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-april-fools-companies-20160401-htmlstory.html). But, in the end it was just an early April Fools Joke published by Yahoo News 3 days ago. I know that this prank certainly generated a lot of press for the chain earning its own snopes article and generating thousands of twitter posts, so I think that these marketing tactics can be useful. But like Juvenal brought up, I think there can be a backlash for poorly done pranks. For example, from the general social media response, it seems a lot of people are angry with YahooNews for publishing the article (which they later pulled). I would be curious to see what happened to Trader Joes sales on March 31.