April Fools’ Ideas: 8 Marketing Wins That Had Everyone Fooled

We all know that building trust is the cornerstone of branding. We talk about transparency and honesty as the foundational elements for brands to build trust. Therefore, the idea of fooling customers sounds counterintuitive, doesn’t it? 

But here’s the flip side: humor and wit can actually be powerful tools for brand engagement. A well-crafted prank can break the ice, showcase your brand’s personality, and ultimately make you more relatable. After all, who doesn’t want a brand they can connect with on a human level? That’s the reason, April Fools’ marketing is a popular concept in the world of marketing. 

The key, of course, is striking the right balance. We’re talking humor that involves, light-hearted pranks. Pranks that do not disappoint. Pranks that are all about a good laugh. That’s the kind of April Fools’ campaign that can truly work wonders for your brand.

So, what are those April Fools’ ideas that brands can tap into to achieve this balance? We’ll answer that in this blog by exploring some of the most creative April Fools’ campaigns executed by brands around the world. And a few that missed the mark as well. 

But before we get there, let’s take a quick trip back in time to see where this whole prank-filled day originated.

April Fools Day – The Story of How It All Began

Well, there’s no concrete proof about the actual origins of this day but there are several speculations and old traditions linked to it. 

One theory involves France’s decision to switch to the Gregorian calendar from the Julian in the 16th century. Reportedly, the new year started around April 1st in the Julian calendar. People who did not accept the adoption of the Gregorian calendar and those who did not know about the change continued to celebrate their new year on April 1st. And they were labeled “April Fools”. People played pranks on them and slowly over the years this became a common practice. 

There’s another theory that talks about the possible origins of the tradition of pranking people on this day. Supposedly April Fools’ Day was also called “Gowkie Day” because of the “Hunt the Gowk” tradition in Scotland. This was a fun practice of sending people on pointless errands or sending people to deliver letters which ended up in a wild goose chase until the one who was pranked realized it. 

These stories are all said to be hundreds of years old and over the years the practices have changed. Now people have the most creative ways to fool their friends. 

One of the oldest records of pranks is the ticket to the “Annual Ceremony of Washing the Lions” which looked like a genuine ticket but the event itself was non-existent! 

Similar pranks involving replacing objects, and declaring hoaxes through broadcast channels like TV and radio, are all among the common April Fools’ ideas. In recent times, brands have started taking this day to a whole new level leveraging a variety of digital and traditional media to pull their customers’ legs. 

8 Best April Fools’ Ideas Executed by Brands 

Seasonal marketing that plans campaigns around topics and occasions that everyone is talking about can be a great idea for brands. However, there’s one key difference between campaigns created for other occasions and campaigns created with April Fools’ ideas. Marketing campaigns for other occasions can deliver a message and drive sales as well. Because there’s often shopping involved. 

However, April Fools’ Day is one of those occasions where your marketing efforts are directed toward initiating conversations rather than selling or promoting. Therefore when carefully implemented, April Fools’ marketing can be a valuable tool to boost a brand’s customer engagement. 

Let’s talk about some campaigns that show how this can be achieved. 

1. Google Tulip 

The below video shows one of the most brilliant April Fools’ Ideas from Google. For the first few seconds, it looks like a normal video discussing evolving technology. But once the plants start talking, the humor in the video starts showing. The moments when all the tulips start talking and when the cactus plant yells “leave me alone” are some of the funniest. 

Fake product promotions like this one are some of the most common April Fools’ ideas in marketing. In this case, the video preserves the brand’s technology-forward personality and still seamlessly infuses humor into the portrayal. 

This video is visually engaging because it packs clear storytelling that builds momentum. At first, it sounds plausible, then goes on to reveal the reality. So, it amuses the viewers without fooling them. That’s a great way to engage the audience on April Fool’s Day. 

2. Logitech BS Detection for Video Conferencing 

Another fun campaign involving a fake product was from Logitech. This product was introduced as a witty take on dishonesty that exists in several places in corporate communication. The video here talks about a fake product that’s meant to detect BS – in video conferencing. BS here means Business Speak – nothing else! 😉

The sarcastic tone of the video is easy to grasp and the demonstration, no matter how real it looks, does not fool or disappoint the viewers. 

Logitech’s video here worked because it leveraged a universally appealing theme by demonstrating a shared experience that customers relate to. While the device itself was merely fiction, the idea was pretty good. This shows how playing on common pain points can create something easy to connect with. 

3. SodaStream: Heavy Bubbles – 

In this campaign, the popular sparkling water maker brand SodaStream came up with a comical way to promote their original product, the sparkling water maker. To grab attention the brand here collaborated with Game of Thrones fame, Thor, Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson. 

The begins with the funny promotion of a fake product called Heavy Bubbles packaged in plastic water. It then takes a dig at the somewhat extreme nature that persists in the workout culture. 

From comical performances by the starring actors to the witty dialogues delivered, everything about this ad aligns it with April Fools’ Day. While prioritizing humor, the ad also subtly establishes how the SodaStream products are eco-friendly alternatives to packaged sparkling water in plastic bottles. 

This campaign shows how video can be used to communicate layered messages with utmost clarity. 

4. Tiffany & Co.: TiffCoins 

Tiffany & Co. added a post announcing Tiffcoins, their venture in the world of cryptocurrency. On visiting the landing page linked, visitors could get the message that there was actually no cryptocoin to purchase. But these coins were made available as real gold coins that could be purchased as a limited edition collection on the website. 

So, what can brands take away from this April Fools’ Day campaign? 

Given that sophistication is Tiffany & Co.’s signature style, the overall theme of the campaign carefully preserves a theme of luxury. 

Moreover, notice how the brand keeps the information crisp in the social media post, while transparently and clearly communicates the core message on the landing page. This transparency in making it clear to your audience that it’s a joke ensures that the audience is not misled. 

KIMP Tip: To stand out in a crowded social media space, animated GIFs like the one used by Tiffany & Co. can be quite effective. 

Need help designing GIFs for your April Fools’ ideas? Get a KIMP Video subscription. 

5. The night the Jimmys swapped shows

Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon are both great hosts and both have huge fan bases. To play a prank on their audiences, they came up with one of the best April Fools’ ideas and switched places. 

Jimmy Kimmel appeared on The Tonight Show whereas Jimmy Fallon went to host Jimmy Kimmel Live. The audiences in both the places were thoroughly surprised and the prank was received well. 

Given that both Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel are popular talk show hosts the prank gained national attention. There was also a lot of buzz about it on social media. The element of surprise pranked the customers while also delighting them and boosting the interaction on the shows. 

This campaign is a good example of how scaling your idea to a bigger level and collaborating with the right influencers or celebrities can add more magic to your April Fools’ ideas. 

6. BMW dDrive 

For this April Fools’ campaign, BMW chose to target a niche audience segment, pet owners. The ad spoke about a fictional product created particularly for pets. The overall presentation of the product in the video seemed quite real and aligned with the brand’s personality. 

Similar to BMW, consider tailoring your April Fools’ Day prank to a specific segment of your audience.  This personalization can make the humor more relatable.

From the title of the video to the thumbnail, every little detail made it clear that this was an April Fools’ prank. This transparency goes a long way because you do not want to mislead your audience with missing information. We’ll talk more about this when we discuss some failed April Fools’ campaigns in the next section. 

7. Air New Zealand’s Bus To Hawaii campaign 

For this April Fools’ Day campaign, Air New Zealand tricked people into believing they were offering a free bus ride to Hawaii. When it comes to creating memorable experiences, this is one of the best April Fools’ ideas from brands. It does not end with a simple encounter but rather focuses on creating an elaborate experience. 

The video ends with the crew thanking the participants, with an overall playful and good-natured approach. This reinforces a positive brand image for Air New Zealand instead of hurting the audience with deception. 

But such campaigns about creating experiences for April Fools’ Day can be tricky to execute. Because there tends to be mixed reactions to such brand activations. While some might take it lightly, there might be many who get disappointed. It is therefore important to ensure that the overall experience stays pleasant and that you do not give your audience too much false hype.  

8. Askov Finlayson’s North Swimwear range 

Eco-conscious outdoor clothing brand Askov Finlayson’s North Swimwear range is one of the most sensible April Fools’ ideas from a brand. This campaign proves that it’s possible to celebrate April Fools’ Day in a more responsible way. 

The campaign was about a fictional product range (swimwear) from the brand that caters to outerwear and clothing designed for extreme temperatures. The idea was to use humor as the attention-grabbing element to draw attention to the issue of global warming. 

The faux launch was quite creative and cost-effective too. Because there was no real product. The brand only had to create convincing on-brand graphics like social media posts to deliver the message to the right crowd. 

And with this, the brand was able to attract the right attention and create a positive brand image as well. 

Those were a few examples of April Fools’ ideas from brands that were received warmly and helped build strong social media conversations about the brand. However, humor and sarcasm do not always work in favor of a brand. Besides, some factors like tone-deaf messaging and missing information can all lead to the April Fools’ campaign backfiring for a brand. Let’s look at a couple of examples 

April Fools’ Ideas That Were Not Received Well

When Volkswagen became “Voltswagen”

As a harmless prank, Volkswagen announced a fake rebranding to “Voltswagen” on April Fools’ Day. However, the one problem was that the brand did not break the suspense and reveal the truth instantly like most other brands do. Several consumers believed that the name change was real. 

An even bigger problem was that the brand promoted this rebranding as a way for the brand to embrace electric vehicle and hence the name change seemed totally believable. As a result, the term “Voltswagen” was mentioned millions of times on social media and a lot of customers continued to think that this was a genuine move from the brand. Therefore, when they got to know that this was a prank, the idea backfired. The joke was finally on the brand since it was at the receiving end for misleading customers. 

To avoid this, create simple campaigns that immediately reveal the truth in the message and avoid misleading your audience for the sake of creating a buzz. This is the kind of attention that can break people’s trust in your brand. 

Google Mic Drop 

We started our list of April Fools’ ideas from brands with a Google campaign and we would like to end it with one too. But this time we’re talking about a miss. Earlier, Google introduced a “Send+Micdrop” button next to the traditional Send button in Gmail. This let users quickly add a mic drop animation to their email. While the idea itself sounds hilarious, the relevance of this idea to all types of Gmail users was the big question. 

The feature felt irrelevant to those users relying on Gmail for office communication. And since there were some technical issues causing the regular send option to add a mic drop animation by default, some customers expressed how inappropriate the animation looked when sending out serious emails. 

These are the kinds of issues that even big brands face upon not understanding the audience or context. 

Bring Your Funny Yet Sensible April Fools’ Ideas to Life With KIMP Designs

Design plays a major role in the execution of your April Fools’ ideas for your brand. Because in most cases, there is no real product or service or process change involved. A well-planned and implemented design is what gets your idea to your audience. 

This can sometimes be a simple change to your existing product packaging design or some fun and engaging social media posts. Whatever medium you choose, you should be sure that the nuances of your design accurately communicate your message and entertain your audience without hurting them or concealing essential details from them. 

If you are looking to work with professional designers for that job, then consider an unlimited design subscription, like KIMP, that covers unlimited designs and unlimited revisions. This lets you experiment with all your ideas until you are sure of the right one to engage your audience. 

Ready to give it a try, register for our free 7-day trial!