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Marketing strategies for April Fool’s Day – best practices & examples in 2021

Even though half of 2020 and the beginning of 2021 feels like a never ending and deeply unwanted joke, April Fools is still an occasion for brands to shine. A catchy tweet, a viral social media post, being featured on the AdAge April Fools round up – every brand brings out their best creatives in order to stand out. Corporate pranks, marketing jokes, absurd collaborations and spoofs – it’s all there.

April Fools’ Day brings out shenanigans from a variety of brands looking to cash-in on occasion. For more serious brands it’s a good excuse to soften their corporate image and reach new target groups. For others it is simply a way to put a smile on the faces of their clients and followers. At the end of the day – it’s all about positive and warm brand associations.

We spent the day monitoring social media and managed to select the best jokes, videos and ideas. What’s more, we bucketed them into core strategies that were dominating this April Fools’ Day in the marketing department. What are the winning schemes, best practices and examples? Here’s our round up:

Spark joy by including cute animals

Well, this is a no-brainer – adding cute puppy eyes to your creative will definitely create warm feelings among your audience. During April Fools’ Day brands embrace this strategy from multiple angles: adding pets to their graphics, announcing the launch of a pet-friendly service or adding animal-like features to their products.

Hushoffice – a provider of smart and thoughtful workspaces – announced the launch of HushPuppy: a booth for pets to take their moment of privacy and gather their thoughts. “Does your dog also need a moment of privacy and concentration to rethink their tasks? In hushPuppy will do this efficiently, the acoustics of the interior will dampen most barking”. Brilliant!

BMW

BMW added unicorn features to their latest BMW 4 Series. With this move, the automotive giant managed to kill two birds with one stone. Not only did the post go viral and create positive feelings around the brand –  on some deep unconscious level, between the lines, it also managed to position the BMW brand next to the perfect mythological creature – the unicorn. Known for its beauty, strength and being unreachable – it’s a perfect positioning for a luxury brand. 

Intrigue your audience through unusual brand collaborations

Brand collaborations are a win-win situation in the world of marketing. Two powerful and complimentary brands exchange their reach, associations and follower base to boost brand awareness. On April Fools’ Day brand collaborations can be pushed to their limits – at the end of a day it’s only a joke, no strings attached. When scrolling through this year’s April Fools jokes, we noticed that FMCG brands particularly enjoyed teaming up and creating unusual combinations. 

Innocent + Heinz

The tinned food giant Heinz and fruit juice brand Innocent teamed up and introduced a new “product” – a baked bean smoothie. While at first the idea of combining baked beans and a fruit smoothie might seem repulsive, just think of the nutritional benefits! All that protein!


Weetabix + Heinz Beans

It seems we couldn’t get enough beans this April Fools’ Day – Heinz also collaborated with classic British breakfast staple, Weetabix. Remember what we just said about protein? Let’s just double down on it.

Reference customer behaviour

This is an interesting category: it takes a degree of insight to create a compelling joke based on customer behaviour. The idea behind this strategy is to refer to how customers perceive and interact with your product. This way, your consumers’ reaction will likely be a solemn nod and a muttered “yeah, same, so true”. It also displays a degree of self-awareness from you, which is appealing to customers. That’s what makes it very exciting, likeable and shareable – a recipe for a viral campaign. 

McDonald’s Fries

McDonald’s, for instance, decided to tackle the age-old problem of fry stealing. Picture this: you’re at McDonald’s with your friends, everyone’s placed their order and one of your friends went “yeah, I’m not ordering any fries, I’ll just take a few from one of you”.

Hearing that probably made your skin crawl – you just know the filthy reprobate will end up eating the majority of the fries. Hence McDonald’s brilliant solution to the issue – order a “Just a Few Fries” portion for them. It consists, quite literally, of just a few fries: three, to be exact.

It’s such a good idea we find ourselves wondering why they’d waste this idea on an April Fools’ joke.

Smart LEGO

Speaking of age-old problems: LEGO bricks. Specifically, their sharp corners. Only a minority of us think of LEGO as a childhood staple, a toy for the ages. Those of us who stepped on one of the tiny little buggers can attest: these things are lethal. They are bloodthirsty caltrops, waiting to pierce through our feet and cause untold pain and suffering. This probably isn’t by design, but it’s clear LEGO knows how much fear the sharp corners on 2×4 bricks instill in every single one of us.

Hence Smart LEGO – bricks that run away when you’re about to step on them. A brilliant idea, but it makes us wonder if it could actually result in a viable product. Think how much suffering could be avoided that way!

Duolingo toilet roll

According to social media findings, many people learning a new language through Duolingo will practice their skills on the toilet. Keeping these time savvy individuals in mind, Duolingo has created their Duolingo toilet roll – available in five languages and coming in a range of bright colours.

Good old nerdy marketing

The cherry on top – a new feature from Google!  We could not fit this in any category, but we found it brilliant – we had to put it somewhere. Google’s Drag and Drop™ online search ranking feature was appreciated by hundreds of SEO specialists. “The new Drag and Drop™ feature enables marketers to drag and drop their client’s websites to the top of search results. 🙌”

These cheesy jokes prove that April Fools’ Day should be celebrated more than once a year!