Case Study: How April Fools’ Day Became Another Marketing Tool

The pranks, scandals, and practical jokes are legendary on April Fools’ Day, but no other industry has mastered the art of friendly hoaxes like the online world. Perhaps it began with those notorious Myspace chain messages or YouTube’s viral videos, but the internet has become a place synonymous with practical jokes.

It should be no surprise then that online giants such as Google and Skype perpetrated some of the greatest April Fools’ Day pranks. Whether they go viral because of their ridiculousness or create chatter with their creativity, corporate April Fools’ jokes are now an annual marketing strategy. Companies that fooled us with their cleverness include:

  • Google
  • The White House
  • Skype
  • Netflix
  • Sony

Google’s Funny Bone Grows Larger Than Ever

Google is not only undeniably the king of search engines, but is arguably the king of online pranks as well! Each April Fools’ Day, Google unleashes a myriad of jokes to tease and tickle users. While 2013 was no exception, it may have been their most successful year yet.

The most notable prank by the search engine behemoth was the joke announcement of Google Nose, an obvious play on Google Glass. The supposed app would allow users to smell scents of anything they searched through their mobile devices. Google Map also added a treasure map filter to the thrill of many users globally. Google’s YouTube also issued a joke announcement that the popular video-sharing site would be closing down until 2023. Until then, YouTube would select the best video ever and declare it the winner of YouTube’s eight-year long contest.

Other Google pranks include the creation of Google Blue as well Google SCHMICK: The Simple Complete House Makeover Internet Conversion Kit. With SCHMICK, users can make their boring homes like this…

…look like this!

The White House Has a Sense of Humor, Too!

While Google had many April Fools’ jokes up their sleeves, they didn’t steal all the thunder. The White House released clever statement from the president that you can view below.

Skype Goes Intergalactic

Thought it was cool to video message your distant cousin in the Philippines? Well, Skype announced Skype in Spaaaaaaaace on April Fools’ Day! This would-be tool allows users to beam video messages across the galaxy. Beware, there’s a slight delay due to the delay mitigation with communication satellites!

Don’t Touch My Netflix, Bro!

On April Fools’ Day, the traditional genre system on Netflix was infused with new video categories. Instead of selecting a Reality TV program, viewers were treated to “Reality TV About People With No Concept of Reality.” One genre even featured television programs where crossed arms unified the cover art.

Sony Goes Interspecies 

This year, Sony announced a new “animalia” line of products for April Fools’ Day. These technological devices would have been designed for our household pets to enjoy technology such as televisions and their own mobile tablets. According to Sony: “The introductory line-up includes Sony-branded products targeted at owners with dogs, cats and hamsters with additional devices and networked services slated for release later this year.”

The Future of April Fools’ Day Marketing

While 2013 was filled with incredible April Fools’ Day jokes, it isn’t the last opportunity brands will have to pull a practical prank. With 2014’s prank day nearly a year a way, brands have months to prepare for next year’s marketing pranks.

What will your brand come up with?

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Daniel

Daniel Chioco is a writer living in Nashville, TN. He earned his Commercial Music degree at Belmont University, where he also studied creative writing and wrote for the student newspaper. When he isn't creating content, Daniel works as an actor and films YouTube videos. He is also a freelance musician and is authoring his first fantasy novel.

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