Once a day for practical jokes (salt in the sugar jar), we’ve come to expect pranks from our favourite brands on April Fool’s Day. This year was no different, seeing everything from new ‘product’ launches to Black-Mirror technology, to unlikely brand collaborations.
Several of our own clients participated this year. MADE.com launched their first-ever ‘Grow Your Own Sofa’, Iceland hilariously added CBD to their hash browns to have consumers starting the day stress-free, and Papa Johns partnered with Pot Noodle to launch Pot Pizza – every snack-lovers dream meal.
But not every brand got it right. UK beer subscription site Bier Company tricked customers into signing up for a monthly subscription with a message stating they had won “free beer for life”. The ASA received over 40 complaints once the prank was revealed, with some angrily calling the stunt a “scam” on Twitter.
McDonald’s also disappointed their audience by refusing to participate at all, tweeting “Okay we’ve got to tell you. We had an April Fools ready – a hybrid Big Mac Breakfast McMuffin but it looked too good, and our boss was worried you’d all try and order it.”
The most successful pranks are those which poke fun at the brand themselves (we’re thinking of Subway’s bread-scented room diffuser, “Eau de Dough”), particularly as the now-expectant masses are less easy to fool.
At best, a well-calculated April Fool’s prank can be a great short-term boost for brands, with the potential to spark earned media opportunities. However, poorly placed jokes can be costly, so it is important for brands to think hard before they jump on the bandwagon next year.