In the age of viral videos and guerrilla marketing, many companies see April Fools' Day as a chance to capitalize on some unique marketing that has a chance to go viral. Don't believe us, just look at the list below of companies that have pulled some famous April Fools' Day pranks in the past few years.
American Eagle's 'Skinny Skinny' jeans
Popular clothing retailer, American Eagle, may have jumped the gun on an April Fools' prank, but that didn’t stop the company from gaining a host of media attention for its "Skinny Skinny" jeans campaign. It all started for the company when a video announcing jeans that "fit like a second skin" appeared on the AE website. The site also offered customers a chance to buy the skintight jeans in different two washes, indigo and bright light, for $49.95 each. Each pair of jeans came in a spray can; however, savvy customers noticed something was not right with the product.
Soon after, Bob Holobinko, American Eagle's vice president of brand marketing, went on the "Today Show" and explained the idea as a way to have fun with the company's fans. However, the campaign had a big impact, with more than 200,000 people visiting the site to try to buy the jeans in the days after the video. The fun may not be over for American Eagle as Holobinko alluded to a secondary release for the "Skinny Skinny" jeans on the "Today Show" appearance.&
Google plays a gaggle of pranks
Google may be one of the more famous pranksters, having pulled off a number of high- level pranks in the past few years. Last year was no exception as the tech giant announced 15 different pranks throughout the company's various sites. Some of the crazier jokes included among them was Google Racing. Company co-founder Sergey Brin even got in on the action, appearing in a video where he asked viewers "what if you built a self-driving car capable of navigating a track at speeds upwards of 200 mph while surrounded by other cars?” When curious users went to the site they were greeted with a legitimate-looking website, but the following message also appeared.
"Surprise! As you might have guessed, Google Racing is an April Fools' joke brought to you by Google and NASCAR," the site said. "And while we won't be providing self-driving cars to compete in the races, we look forward to working with NASCAR on future projects."
Other pranks included Chrome multitask mode, which allowed users to browse the Web with multiple cursors. The tech giant also announced Google Voice for Pets, which allowed people to translate their pets' thoughts into texts or voice messages, and Gmail Tap, which allowed users to type emails using Morse Code.
Burger King makes a left-handed Whopper
The burger chain was a bit ahead of its time when it announced plans for the left-handed Whopper in 1998. A full-page ad in USA Today gave the company's left-handed customers a way to enjoy their signature Whopper. The solution to this nonexistent problem was to rotate all condiments 180 degrees. The prank worked as the company reported a number of customers showing up the day after the ad ran looking for one of the special burgers.
Burger King eventually had to run another announcement saying that the whole plan was an elaborate April Fools' prank. However, the prank today is still rated and remembered as one of the best examples of a company pulling an April Fools' joke.
Taco Bell buys the Liberty Bell
Taco Bell raised the bar on April Fools' jokes with its 1996 prank that ran in the six major newspapers. A full page ad announced the company's purchase of the Liberty Bell as a way to help the national debt. The fast food company even announced the landmark would be renamed the "Taco Liberty Bell." The advertisement also prompted other companies to do their part to help to reduce the country's national debt.
The prank may have worked too well for Taco Bell as many people around the country believed the ad. Time magazine reports that National Park Service workers had to continue to reassure visitors and callers that the Liberty Bell had not been sold. To this day, the prank is still considered one of the best April Fools' jokes.
Richard Branson buys Pluto
Richard Branson, founder and chairman of the Virgin Group, has quite the history of pulling April Fools' jokes. However, some of his more famous ones have come in recent years when Branson announced the launch of Virgin Volcanic and the purchase of Pluto in 2012 and 2011, respectively. According to the Virgin website, Virgin Volcanic would allow a small group of people to travel into the core of an active volcano.
"I have a long held a fascination with volcanoes having read Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth as a young boy," Branson said on the site. "I decided that one day I would go there too. Alongside our adventures with Virgin Galactic and Virgin Oceanic, volcanoes are the next great unexplored terrain. What can I say, I lava challenge!"
Savvy followers have come to expect such announcements from Branson on April Fools' Day. Just the year before, Branson announced he had bought Pluto and intended to get it reinstated as a planet.
Hulu goes back to the 1990s
Hulu was 11 years from being formed in 1996, but that didn’t stop the video-streaming service from giving users an idea of what the service would have looked like in 1996 on April 1, 2011. For the prank, Hulu put popular shows from the mid-1990s on its homepage, including "The X-Files," "Outer Limits" and others. The site also featured a link that would take users back to the future when they clicked on it.
While all that was going down, the Hulu team was hard at work implementing some new features to the Hulu& home page," the site added in an announcement."While we’re still working on our GeoCities fan page, we just implemented a new visitor counter and, even cooler, a guest book for you to leave your comments. As always, these features are best seen on Netscape Navigator or Internet Explorer with your resolution set at 1024×768."
Groupon buys April Fools' Day
The daily deals site had a unique idea when it came to trumping the efforts of all other companies on April Fools' Day. In 2011, the company announced it was buying April Fools' Day, which gave the company controlling intellectual trademark ownership of the holiday.
"Now, when you think of Groupon Presents April Fools’ Day™ (the holiday's officially sanctioned title), you'll think of Groupon — because you and your favorite corporate entities are barred from creating or participating in any April 1 prank without the express written consent of Groupon. Groupon's acquisition of the previously unprofitable April Fools’ Day™ gives consumers more choices and better options," the company website announced. "You'll never again be confused by other corporations' April 1 pranks, since Groupon will be taking friendly, but swift, but hostile, legal actions against any nonlicensed April Fools' Day™ joke."
Groupon even listed violators of the new policy, which included several companies and individuals.