Do’s and Don’ts of April Fools’ Day Marketing

April Fools’ jokes have become a part of the modern marketing landscape. They litter the Internet on April 1. Some get a chuckle and some fall a bit flat, but they all manage to help humanize a brand. Learn when an April Fools’ day campaign is a good idea, and avoid being this year’s April Fool. 

Major players such as Google and Amazon hit consumers with a range of gags, and other brands follow suit. If you can create a humorous, timely and committed April Fools’ joke, it might be a great way to gain visibility for both real and imagined products.

Commit to Your Joke

The biggest mistake that many April Fools’ day gags make is to give away the joke. The fun of the fool is being fooled. If you give away the joke, you take away the uncertainty. It might get a few laughs and a few views, but to truly take advantage of the spirit of the day, it needs to fool those who see it.

oreo double crunch april fools marketing

This joke is too close to reality. Why wouldn’t this exist in the Oreo pantheon?

Go Big or Stay Home

If the joke is good, it deserves to be seen. And it will be used in blog posts as examples of great jokes for years to come (ahem!). Warby Parker posted the Warby Barker video in 2012 and hasn’t done another April Fools’ Day prank since. Why? The company simply hasn’t found another joke that is good enough to promote. As with all your content, you should never publish for the sake of publishing. If you don’t have something you love, move onto something else.

Photo by Warby Parker

Current Can Backlash

Content needs to be fresh and current, but sometimes staying at the forefront isn’t the best idea for a prank. In 2015, Honda, Google, Miz Mooz, Twitter and other companies all used the selfie as the basis for their gags.

Photo by Miz Mooz
Photo by Miz Mooz

Too much of a good thing wears out the humor. Instead of focusing on current events, you might look to your brand and company to find your next gag. That’s how Warby Parker came up with its glasses for dogs. It turns out that Warby Barker was one of the most common misspellings of the company’s name when searched. They thought of their audience first, then formed the joke.

Believable Is Better

A gag that sounds real can draw a lot more interest than one that is an obvious joke. ThinkGeek routinely shows off this take on a gag with “products” you can add to your shopping cart. The Voltron Cat Condo may not be real, but it certainly looks real enough. The product page was complete and the pictures were professional. As part of the fun, shoppers could even vote to make one (or more) of the products real.

Of course, if you introduce a real product or feature around April Fools’ Day, it might not make the splash you intend. Amazon unrolled the Dash button on March 31 and made a lot of gag winner lists because it was an absolutely real product that seemed too good to be true. Avoid rolling out real products on gag day unless you want to assure customers that it is real for months afterward.

April Fools’ Day Is Only One Day

blue moon beer infused orange

If you don’t have an April Fools’ Day gag ready to go for the first of the month, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to connect with your audience. It takes time to come up with something that is fun without being insulting. The best pranks tie into the brand, like the Blue Moon release of beer-infused oranges. If you like an orange slice with your beer, why wouldn’t you like oranges that taste a little like beer? If you have a gag that ties into your brand, is humorous without being insulting, and is ready to go for the first, go for it. Give the gag the promotion it deserves with press releases, product pages, social media posts and other marketing avenues. If you don’t avoid them entirely, pranks can be very hit or miss.

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