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:

Bacon-flavored mouthwash:

Ridiculously specific Netflix categories:

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




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About Tony Silber

Scott Van Camp is editor of PR News, an executive-level, reader-supported publication that helps enhance the business impact of PR. Scott has a rich background in both journalism and PR/marketing. He has more than 15 years of experience as a writer/editor at various consumer and trade publications. Scott was with VNU Business Publications for five years, including stints as managing editor at IQ News and Technology Marketing magazines and senior editor at Brandweek. In the PR/marketing sphere, he has served as corporate communications manager at MarketBridge, a marketing and sales consultancy, and as editorial director for the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council. While at the Council, Scott led several high-profile marketing research projects. He has also operated his own communications and media consulting firm, SVC Communications.

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  • 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.