How PR and marketing pros celebrated April Fools’ Day

Many brand managers shared videos, press releases and social media posts aimed at grabbing consumers’ attention by tricking them. Some argue the stunts aren’t worth the effort.

April Fools marketing ploys

On April 1, don’t believe everything you hear or read—especially if it comes from a PR or marketing pro.

Here’s a rundown of several branded efforts for the prank-filled holiday—along with advice to communicators to skip the jokes next time.

‘New’ products boast existing products and services

Most brand managers’ efforts for April Fools’ Day involved fake products that, while aiming to elicit humor, played up on their organizations’ product offerings.

SodaStream introduced the “SodaStreamMe,” which is powered by consumers’ excess gas. The company partnered with astronaut Scott Kelly (who has spent the most time in space on a single mission):

In the video Kelly sums up the fake product: “When life gives you gas, make SodaStream.”

Jameson Whiskey offered customers a way to protect their bottle from getting stolen by friends, family members or roommates:

A press release on the spirit’s website reads, in part:

Anyone who triggers the glitter security system will be covered in sparkle-studded shame that will take hours to wash off.

Each Jameson Catchmates bottle contains over 10,000 glitter particles ensuring maximum glittery-coverage of your whiskey-thieving mate. Once the security system is triggered the glitter is released by the carbon loaded spring at a speed of 10 meters per second.

Haters of corporate jargon might be sad to know that Logictech’s April Fools’ Day announcement isn’t real: The company said its products now include a built-in business-speak software (which it named the “BS Detector”):

McDonald’s offered “Shake Sauce”—sauces flavored after its chocolate, strawberry, vanilla and Shamrock mint milk shakes:

Tinder debuted a height recognition feature:

Introducing the thing you never asked for, but definitely always wanted—Tinder Height Verification. Coming soon. Read more about it here:

Posted by Tinder on Friday, March 29, 2019

Tinder says the feature uses a photo of a user standing next to a commercial building to assess the correct height, and then adds a verification badge to the user’s profile.

In a blog post, the company wrote:

It’s the tool we’ve had in our back-pockets for years, but we were hoping your honesty would allow us to keep it there. Our verification tool is super easy to use, and extremely hard to misuse.

Farm Rich showed off gender-reveal mozzarella sticks:

Now you can share your big news with a little cheese. Introducing Gender Reveal Mozzarella Sticks!👶 Grab a box for your big reveal: #FarmRichReveals

Posted by Farm Rich on Monday, April 1, 2019

Even though a gender-reveal lasagna does exist, consumers who click on Farm Rich’s link are directed to an April Fools’ Day announcement and a coupon off the brand’s actual mozzarella sticks.

Taking advantage of internet favorites

Several PR and marketing pros took advantage of the power of combining digital content and consumers’ love for cats, dogs and unicorns.

Petco offered a “Furever Weddings” service, which plans an entire matrimony ceremony for dogs or cats:

Though the planning service isn’t real, Petco’s video and press release highlighted the retail chain’s pet grooming and training services, as well as its line of pet clothing (which does include wedding-ready attire). Petco rewards members can also get 20% off their pet’s first grooming service.

Starbucks announced a new line of stores exclusively for dogs, called “Pupbucks”:

Taking a departure from cats and dogs, HelloFresh debuted its first-ever “unicorn box”:

In a press release, HelloFresh said the box comes with the following recipes:

  • Pixie Pizza with a Sprinkle Sauce – This pizza is fit for a pixie, featuring a sugary concoction of blue and purple frosting on shortbread dough, topped with gourmet gummies and multicolored sprinkles.

  • Fairy Fettuccine with a Gummy Garnish – Your main course contains red sour pasta with a gummy garnish and a generous dollop of frosting.

  • Twinkle Tacos with a Chocolate Crema – Cap it all off with a chilled ice cream taco smothered in chocolate sauce with gummy fruits, rainbow tape, and special sprinkles.

Reconsidering April Fools’ marketing jokes

Though many of the jokes mentioned above grabbed consumers’ attention and elicited laughs and social media shares, not all PR and marketing pros are jumping on the holiday band wagon.

Microsoft even made headlines and earned kudos from journalists when an internal memo made the rounds online. In it, Microsoft’s marketing chief told employees to refrain from public pranks.

Many journalists and social media users are already ridiculing brand managers’ April Fools efforts. Many Twitter users tweeted their displeasure over marketing stunts:

CNet’s Mark Serrels wrote a scathing commentary on brand managers’ efforts for April Fools’ Day. It read, in part:

Are you ready to be overcome by how relatable corporate entities can be? They’re just like regular people and certainly aren’t just faceless brands fighting for your eyeballs on the social media battlegrounds.

… I can’t decide if the internet destroyed April Fools’ or the internet destroyed my ability to enjoy April Fools’. Either way, thanks to the internet, April Fools’ has become little more than a festival of forced fun cannibalised by brands desperately trying to humanise themselves on Twitter.

Content Marketing Institute editor Ann Gynn wrote:

It’s a tempting conundrum for content marketers. To earn a reputation for quality content, you’re taught to avoid spammy clickbait headlines or sales pitches thinly disguised as content. But April 1 seemingly gives you a reason to break the rules – deceiving your audiences by crafting fake content, writing absurd headlines, and even promoting faux products.

Is celebrating April Fools’ Day a good idea for content marketers?

Probably not.

TechCrunch’s Brian Heater succinctly answered the question, “Should your company do an April Fools’ prank this year?” (Spoiler: It’s an emphatic “no.”)

PR Daily readers, how do you feel about PR and marketing content for April Fools’ Day? Let us know below in the comments and on my Twitter poll:

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