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April Fools' Day: It would be foolish not to make the most of this off-the-wall event in the marketers' calendar

Words by Elly Brooker, Marketing Manager

For the eagle-eyed among you that caught our tweet about our brand-new product launch, Chimney Wine, Happy April Fools' Day (and if you didn’t see it, be sure to start following us on Twitter so you never miss an update!)

This time last year, we found ourselves in the depths of lockdown and pandemic crisis, quickly learning how to navigate communicating during such difficult and ‘unprecedented’ times, so going too strong with April Fools' would have been insensitive and inappropriate. But this time around, having made it through over a year of some form of restrictions and with light at the end of the tunnel, now more than ever, we’re in need of some light-hearted comic relief. Such methods of communicating can also be effective: The Drum reported that in the UK, research indicates 86% of people think humour is one of the best ways a company can connect with them. 

This year, some companies were chomping at the bit to get going. Just look at Volkswagen’s ill-received ‘Voltswagen’ joke, released three days before April 1, which highlights the importance of balance and timing. Working in marketing, I enjoy monitoring and reviewing different types of campaigns to see if there are any insights or inspiration – good or bad – that we at Garçon Wines may be able to learn from. So, in the spirit of the day and as part of the team blog, I thought I’d share a few of my favourite April Fools' campaigns of years past.  


Samsung: Fli-Fy 

In this launch video, engineers and experts line up to share more about Samsung’s latest innovation, pigeon powered universal WiFi, where pigeons carry small, light routers to cater to our demands for “internet everywhere”. On-brand with Samsung’s messaging of using technology to contribute to a better global society, it’s one of those ideas that’s close enough to home to get you thinking whether there’s an element of truth. After all, homing pigeons are well-known for having been used to deliver communications. In our modern world, a logical next step could be developing this to include telecommunications - just think how great the signal would be in Trafalgar Square!


Petco: Beautiful Bond

From Amazon’s Petlexa to Google’s Google Play for Pets, there’s no shortage of pet-related April Fools' Day jokes. They’re effective because our furry friends pull on the heartstrings and play into the internet’s obsession with funny animals. In this genre, one I particularly liked was Petco’s ‘Beautiful Bond Salon’, where pet owners could have treatments to make them resemble their animals. Developing the age-old idea that pets often look like their humans, the US pet store’s prank resonated well with their pet parent audience who seemed genuinely excited by the idea judging by their Instagram comments. One of the reasons for the pet/human makeovers? To “make other people happy”, which is exactly what this April Fools' campaign achieved more generally. 


Toms x Uber: shuberX

In this collaboration, Toms and Uber teamed up to launch ‘shuberX’, which sees drivers and riders transport themselves on foot in a cardboard ‘car’. It’s a good example of using the opportunity of April Fools' Day to showcase business successes and mission, and to further a good cause through charitable giving, while doing so in a way that doesn’t take themselves too seriously. Littered with witty puns like “we’ve always referred to ourselves as a movement and now with shuberX, we truly have something that moves”, the result is so clearly a practical joke, but also so well linked to Toms & Uber’s respective focuses on comfortable shoes and mobility. 


Whether these examples had you fooled or not, they make it clear that when done well, April Fools' Day campaigns can be a great exercise in brand building with a twist, reaching new audiences and improving engagement. It would be a shame to miss out on these benefits!


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