These Companies Are No April Fools

Happy April 1st, everyone!

Across the globe, this day means many things. For starters, it’s finally spring and the miserable, polar vortex-filled winter on 2013-14 is finally over (hopefully). It also means that April Fools’ Day has arrived. Back in the day (like 300 years back in the day), rapscallions whoopee cushioned, hoaxed, tricked and teased one another on this great day!  In today’s technology-driven world of ecommerce and social media marketing, companies go all out with elaborate spoofs with goals of going viral and brand building. Meanwhile, Human Resources and Public Relations professionals are left chewing their fingernails and entire bottles of Tums!

Here at StrataBlue, we definitely appreciate the power of a tasteful joke and a good laugh. It’s our pleasure to present you with the funniest and best executed examples of April Fools’ Day 2014. We’ll be updating this post throughout the day, so stay tuned for the final winners!

Gold: Google Maps

In a video published yesterday, Google announced their maps division is seeking to fill a new position called Pokémon Master.

In order to be considered for this role, “applicants” must utilize the latest version of Google Maps and complete a challenge that involves locating and catching all of the 150 hidden Pokémon by 2pm Pacific time on April 2nd.

Why it made the list: While obviously a good-humored prank, this April Fools’ Day campaign does help Google accomplish a few serious goals. First, it encourages those who are not currently utilizing the latest version of its map product, to do so and become familiar with its features and functionality. Secondly, it reinforces their corporate culture. In promoting this farse, the tech giant says, “We value employees who are risk-taking and detail-oriented, have deep technical knowledge, and can navigate through tall grass to capture wild creatures.” Wouldn’t you say this is precisely the type of talent the organization is after when filling its actual positions? 

Silver: Tic Tac Shakeless

The well-known mint masters announced today via Facebook a new shakeless variety of their iconic product. Supposedly engineered to be silent, the new container appears to be lined with mini bubble wrap. For buyers, this new “technology” offers one key benefit; no shaking means no sharing.

Tic Tac

Why it made the list: An effective April Fools’ Day gag doesn’t have to leave viewers questioning whether or not it’s real. This campaign, for example, is immediately noticeable as a joke. After all,  Tic Tac says “APRIL FOOLS!” is the Facebook post itself. However, by blatantly marketing against the “shake, shake” sound that the product is synonymous with and encouraging non-sharing, success was achieved. As of this writing, the post has received great engagement stats including over 100 likes and a plethora of positive comments.

Bronze: Publicis Seattle

Who? Publicis Seattle is an agency located in a city that is well known for the amount of precipitation it receives each year. Today, they announced the creation of a new product called Brand Drops. They describe this invention as “the world’s first branded aromatic rain.” By infusing scents into rain droplets, companies can deliver customized scents to reinforce their own products or services. For example, a fast-food chain can sprinkle “french fry” aroma on customers and a car dealership can make it rain “new car scent.”

Why it made the list: Perhaps like me, you had never heard of Publicis Seattle prior to this April Fools’ Day stunt. The fact that they’ve achieved so much positive brand recognition makes this campaign worthy of my top three (at least for now). However, it’s also impressive how much time and effort they invested in developing their Brand Drops bit. They created a robust microsite, produced the above promotional video, announced a product email address, and even developed a LinkedIn profile for Brand Drops CEO. That’s what I call pulling out all the stops. Well done, Publicis Seattle!

What are your thoughts on the above April Fools’ Day campaigns? Whether or not you’re a fan of this humorous holiday, it’s undeniable that a well-executed, tasteful fakeout can be a powerful marketing tool for companies. If you’ve come across other interesting examples of corporate April Fools’ Day gags, tell me about them by leaving a comment below!