April Fools' Day 2015 Winners and Losers
What used to be a day of harmless (and some not-so-harmless) pranks has turned into a marketer's dream. It's a day of creativity, fun, and marketing stunts that build brand awareness, gain media attention, and maybe even drive a sale or two. April Fools' Day is no longer about saran wrap and other pettiness. It now requires a big budget and top-production values to make a splash.
Of course, not every April Fools' Day effort is a success. There are plenty that fall flat, play it too safe, or just don't get noticed at all.
Here are the winners and losers of April Fools' Day 2015:
First it was Honda with the CRV, Selfie Edition. Then it was the Chrome Selfie. Then the Selfie Shoes. Too much selfie. When three big companies pull what's essentially the same joke, we start to get a little bored. Of course, if this somehow kills off the selfie, then everyone will be a winner.
Anyone Who Confessed It Was an April Fools' Joke within the Context of the Joke
People must be more gullible these days. Maybe it's because more and more people are falling for lowbrow satire on social media, but it seemed like more jokesters than ever felt the need to include a disclaimer about April Fools' Day within their jokes. From posts that said "look what day it is" to outright telling everyone "this is an April Fools' joke," there were plenty of people and companies who didn't want to go all the way. This takes most of the fun out of it. It's like the old saying goes: if you have to explain the joke, then it isn't funny.
Bing's Harry Potter Gag
Bing won last year with their Link Juice post, but this year was a big loss for the search engine. The overdone comparison between Harry Potter and Bing Ads certainly didn't help the search engine look relevant. The post wasn't funny, wasn't timely, and tried way too hard to push Bing's ad services. Luckily, Bing redeemed itself a little with the Cuteness Cloud. Can't win them all, right? Nope, you sure can't. But when there's kittens and puppies, you always win.
The healthy grocery store chain launched a plethora of April Fools' jokes on their home page. From new stores in outlandish places to fig underpants to cooking hot water, Whole Foods had plenty of ideas. While some of the individual jokes could have been amusing, there was simply too much going on here (and not enough depth to any of the jokes). It's fine to have multiple pranks (just look at Google), but present them in a way where each one can get the attention it deserves. These all ended up being half-baked (or not baked at all).
The online retail giant may have pulled off the biggest April Fools' Day prank ever—without actually pulling a prank. By launching Amazon Dash on March 31st, Amazon had nearly everyone talking about it, convinced it was the first big stunt of the season. A button you place next to household products to make sure you never run out of the things you need again? This screams of joke. But it wasn't, and Amazon got even more attention by fooling everyone into thinking we were being fooled. Then, to top it off, they rolled their homepage back to 1999. The throwback joke always works well because it gives us that nostalgic feeling and also shows us just how far they've come. And Amazon has definitely come a long way.
Earlier this year, Bing predicted 2015 would be the year of the wearables. With products like Apple Watch landing soon, the prediction seems to be a reality. PlayStation took it to the next level with Flow, a wearable that lets you experience video games in the water. Just pause your video game, sync with Flow, and head to the pool. While this probably didn't fool anyone, it did elevate the quality and ingenuity of the April Fools' product release. And I wouldn't be surprised if a few people bought some PlayStation products as a result.
This e-commerce geek paradise launched two outstanding April Fools' products: Voltron Cat Condo and Power Wheels Desert Drifters. The products themselves were fantastic (and accompanied but high-quality videos), but the real highlight was in the discovery. Adding one of these products to your cart triggered a special April Fools' page that made sharing easy. Think Geek gets April Fools'. The point is trying to fool people, not just create something outlandish.
Not much of a surprise here. Google has become one of the April Fools' Day innovators. Although the search engine wasn't perfect this year (see the Chrome Selfie), it still had plenty of hits. Smartbox by Inbox, Google Maps Pac Man, searching in reverse in com.Google, and the release of Google Panda (a dig at Amazon Echo, perhaps?) all showed that Google is still at the top of the April Fools' game. If you want to pull off multiple stunts, Google is the prime example. They were actually dangerously close to pulling too many pranks this year. The only question left: does anyone do any actual work over at Google?
There were plenty of other great April Fools' efforts, such as Audi's Autonomous Office Chair and this very under-appreciated campaign to save Monarch butterflies. Who knew April Fools' Day could be used to promote a cause?
Luckily, there's no sign that April Fools' Day is going to slow down anytime soon. Of course, it's not April 1st anymore. So let's get back to work (and maybe start planning next year's gags).