Fools, and Savvy Brands, Rush In
Happy Facebook Timeline Rollout Day! Hopefully the ample news coverage has prepared you for this big day. If, however, you had to double check your iCal to make sure that Zuckerberg and crew weren’t April Fooling you, never fear: check out our Facebook Timeline Checklist for Brand Pages for tips on how to harness the new visually striking layout.
But since we’re on the topic, let’s talk April Fools’. In addition to looking over your shoulder, might we advise some extra scrutiny towards trending topics and status updates when you log in this Sunday?
Marketing efforts around this humorous holiday are no new trend. In 1957, The BBC fascinated (and fooled) Brits with an exposé on Switzerland’s exotic "Spaghetti Trees". And then in 1998, much to the delight and almost immediate chagrin of this Southpaw, Burger King announced the left-handed Whopper in a full-page print ad in USA Today.
With a broad audience willing to share in (and amplify) a laugh, social media has breathed new life into the sport. Brands have taken note and are capitalizing on the opportunity to create some buzz.
The Reigning Champs: Google
The gang at Google leads the pack in web-based April Fools’ shenanigans. In 2000, Google’s MentalPlex returned a series of humorous error messages after prompting users to telepathically submit their searches (“Error 006: Query is unclear. Try again after removing hat, glasses and shoes.”) They dusted off the hands-free gag again in 2011 to announce Gmail Motion, a webcam-enabled product that would translate gestures into Gmail commands. My personal favorite, one that stung by arriving in the midst of college finals, was Gmail Custom Time. With the slogan, “Be on time. Every time.” the product touted the ability to edit and predate Gmail timestamps.
Sizzling in 2012: Bacon
Within the last 24 hours, chatter has been building about a bacon…coffin? J&D’s Foods, the company behind the brilliance and blasphemy that is Baconnaise, has added a Bacon Coffin to the site’s product listing. A swell of skepticism and “can’t fool me’s” have since sprung up across the social web. Whether the $3000 coffin is a bona fide product or not, I’m willing to bet that they are slinging a few extra $6.00 jars of bacony goodness as a result of this timely product release.
Clorox is also capitalizing on the nation’s unbridled passion for bacon. Taking a cue from brands that released sizzle reels (Yep. Pun intended.) of their Super Bowl ads on YouTube in advance of the big game, Clorox posted advertisements yesterday for Bacon Scented Green Works cleaning products and Organic Bacon Scented Kitty Litter. We have to ask, do you think these ads will generate enough impressions in the next few days to bring home the bacon?
Who Cares if the Product is Real? The Buzz Is.
Tacocopter.com, a site promoting drone-delivery of tacos in the Bay Area, has been around since July 2011, but took flight on social channels within the past week. Wired.com swiftly delivered a deathblow to the dreams of hungry, deskbound SF techies by outing Tacocopter as a product concept of programmer Star Simpson, not a legit delivery service.
Simpson may sound familiar, she was arrested at gunpoint in 2007 at Logan Airport for wearing a homemade LED sweatshirt that an airport employee mistook for a bomb. Which brings me to my next point, vet your “funny” ideas through the proper approval paths before you unleash them on the masses. Humor is a great way engage your audience but don’t risk your reputation on content that may unintentionally offend or inflame.
April 1st falls on a Sunday this year, so breathe a sigh of relief that you’ve (hopefully) escaped any attendant office tomfoolery. Last year, the Spredfast Product Dev team punked Founder Ken Cho by coding the product to display in pastel colors and Comic Sans. Don’t worry Ken, we don’t have anything up our sleeves this year. Or do we?
Have any good April Fools’ stories? Hit us up in the comments.