Are April Fool’s Day Campaigns Still Effective For Brands?

Written by our PR intern and university student Bridie Buckingham

We all have iconic April Fool’s Day campaigns that come to mind, whether that’s from years gone by or more recently.

Perhaps it’s Ant & Dec’s fictional rebrand to Dec & Ant? Or the Teletubbies’ dive into cryptocurrency with TubbyCoin? What about Paddington’s shocking revelation last year that actually, he’s not that into marmalade anymore.

For 364 days a year, brands work hard to create content that builds and strengthens trust with their audience. This is the bread and butter of PR, and it isn’t easy!

But on a single day (or even just the morning, if you’re the superstitious type) in April, many brands suspend those trust-building efforts in the name of creating content deliberately meant to fool (or worse, make fools of) their audiences.

Does April Fool’s Day really give brands a reason to break the rules and craft fake content and ‘sell’ faux products?

Should You Pull An April Fool’s Day Campaign With Your Brand?

To sum it up in a sentence: if your brand has never used humour-based content before, don’t do it.

April Fool’s Day pranks can, and do, work for businesses that can make them relevant, but if your brand isn’t prepared to devote significant resources to develop a thoughtful, well-executed campaign, it’s not worth dabbling in. There are plenty of examples to justify that.

As is often the case with other awareness days and national holidays, sometimes brands may attempt to be involved in a particular celebration because it’s trending, but actually have nothing topical to contribute. Some call it woke washing and this can actually do your brand more damage than good. Don’t be a ‘jack of all trades, and a master of none’, get involved when you know you can do it well. Here at Source PR, we’re all about not just posting for posting’s sake, we love relevancy – and that’s what PR in 2022 should be all about.

Is It The Right Time For April Fool’s Day Campaigns?

As Russia continues to wage war on Ukraine, we are in a similar to predicament to that of 2020, where we asked whether it was appropriate to execute April Fool’s Day stunts at all, no matter the brand? It’s an interesting question and certainly one there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to. So, our Account Manager Jess asked the PR population of Twitter, here’s what they said…

How To Execute A Branded April Fool’s Stunt (At Your Own Risk!)

However, if you feel like an April Fool’s gag is the perfect stunt for your brand then, our advice would be…

  • The most believable April Fool’s jokes often come in the form of e-commerce landing pages for gag products. This approach is your best bet if your main goal is media mentions or backlinks since it gives journalists a perfect place to send their readers.
  • If your content is fresh, unique, and valuable, media and other sites are more likely to talk about it, so make your stunt trendy.
  • Use the 1st of April as a time to test audience response to products or services that seem outlandish. Maybe a bacon-scented candle may work after all?!
  • Use a separate landing page for your content – don’t mix fact and fiction on the same page. Your consumers won’t thank you for that.
  • Don’t develop a promotion that disrupts your audience’s use of your products or services.
  • Harness the appeal of an immediate reveal, don’t lead your customers on and make sure you’re putting your content out at the right time, especially if using social scheduling content.
  • Make the content relevant and satisfy the audience’s curiosity quickly.
  • Finally, invite your audience inside your humorous content efforts and enlist their help (in the form of hashtags or other interactive features) in spreading the fun on social media.

Hopefully, we’ve supplied you with some food for thought. But always bear in mind that April Fool’s pranks can go very wrong very fast. You can never be assured that your joke will go down well with your entire audience. Think about the risk vs. reward.

We’d love to continue the conversation on social media, so if you have any thoughts to add please do let us know on Twitter.