Taking Jokes Seriously: An April 1 Communications Roundup

It’s April Fool’s Day, a day that has seen some epic pranks. Remember baseball’s Sidd Finch and his 168-MPH fastball? Or how about Burger King’s “Left-Handed Whopper?” (Check out this list of great tricks.)

For PR communicators, it’s a great opportunity to connect and engage with your audience in a fun way—a way that can create empathy and great media coverage and long-lasting loyalty. Google is a company that’s a master of the fun (and also cool) April 1 prank. A few years ago, it announced it was changing its name to “Topeka.” One year, it announced a new service called Google Paper, in which all your e-mails would be printed out and delivered to you. This year, it announced “Google Nose,” a search service driven by smell.

Also, Google-owned YouTube announced a contest for the greatest video ever.

Social media, of course, drives the likelihood that a particularly good prank will go viral, spreading the impact of the joke (for better or worse).

Then again, April Fool’s Day can also be a day where the wheels fall off, where things go wrong and employees go rogue. So watch out.

With all that in mind, here are a few of this year’s crop:

Virgin’s glass-bottomed plane:
http://www.virgin.com/richard-branson/blog/virgin-atlantic-launches-worlds-first-ever-glass-bottomed-plane

Bacon-flavored mouthwash:
http://www.scopemouthwash.com/bacon/

Ridiculously specific Netflix categories:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/01/netflix-april-fools_n_2992287.html

And here are some stories rounding up this year’s best and worst pranks.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/04/01/april-fools-day-pranks-scope-virgin-atlantic-ikea/2042451/

http://www.theatlanticwire.com/entertainment/2013/04/best-and-worst-internets-april-fools-day-pranks/63735/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/01/april-fools-day-pranks-2013_n_2991250.html

  • http://twitter.com/arianefeijo Ariane Sefrin Feijo

    Seriously, do you really consider it a great opportunity to engage? Isn’t it more a way to idiotize consumers, method very well managed by advertising for ages? There’s a HUGE difference on what google does compared to what other brands do. Some of them do it well and more than only a “prank” make people play while think, imagine and create. But mostly of what we see is just BS. Sorry for my sincerity, I admire your research but think, as a PR person, that we should look at the increasing amount of these joking-activities every year from another perspective – and it’s not a funny perspective at all.