Brand Hoaxes on April Fools’ Day: The Do’s and Don’ts


Scope Bacon. Snickettes. Virgin Airlines’ glass-bottomed planes. Devil baby attacks. Brands certainly have some fun when it comes to April Fools’ Day!

Check out Zenzi’s guide to brand hoaxes on April Fools’ Day.

Scope Bacon. Snickettes. Virgin Airlines’ glass-bottomed planes. Devil baby attacks. Brands certainly have some fun when it comes to April Fools’ Day!

According to a February 2014 article in Time Magazine by Victor Luckerson, the world of “prankvertising” is certainly growing, as marketers are challenged to create shareable, authentic content that also serves their awareness and brand consideration goals.

But how do you toe the line of flirting with fun or falling flat with pranks?

Do create an authentic idea that somehow ties back to the brand. Launching fake new products, integrating your product into the prank and/or ensuring your brand is front and center in the messaging are all great ways to make sure your brand does not get lost in the prank.

Don’t try too hard. Your consumers can smell a desperate marketing ploy trying to go viral a mile away. Keep it fun, keep it clean and overall – aim to make your consumers chuckle.

Do poke fun at yourselves. Don’t be afraid to do something unexpected, and maybe even a little frivolous. Prankvertising is all about disrupting your consumers’ perception of you, which in turn, gets them talking about you.

Don’t poke fun at others. Nothing has the potential to become a PR crisis more than isolating a group of people, and making them the butt of a joke. The risks are too high for a joke to be misunderstood, misinterpreted, or even be made in bad taste. When in doubt, leave it out.

Do pay attention to the details. Developing collateral like unofficial press releases, faux websites, graphic mock-ups, or even fake samples take the prank to the next level.

Don’t forget to do your homework. If your prank involves interaction with unsuspecting consumers, test their reactions by screening them first before you spring a prank on them. The last thing you want is for someone to literally have a heart attack because they are so startled, or cry or become violent out of fear.

Do let your consumers in on the joke. Create your prank with a wink. Make your prankvertisement align with a real trend, but take it to an extreme. Include fine print at the bottom that is tongue-in-cheek. Give subtle clues to your consumers that this is a joke.

Don’t underestimate your consumers. Your consumers are smart, and they will appreciate the details. Don’t feel like you have to dumb down your idea, or have bold legal language that makes it clear this is a prank.

April Fools’ prankvertisements can be a fun way to reintroduce your brand to consumers, and change the way your consumers interact with your brand.

To get started on your prankvertisement campaign, call us today at 760-635-9320 and ask us about “Comedian On-Demand” services*.

*”Comedian On-Demand” services include one brainstorming session, and two rounds of laugh tests within the Zenzi team. Level of humor is based solely on the opinion of the Zenzi team, and may not be applicable to official standards of humor.

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