Advertising Pranksters FOOL Consumers

Bacon flavored mouthwash, lunchmeat DVDs, and glass-bottom airplanes?? This year’s April Fools holiday has caused an eruption of many brands’ foolish pranks going viral on social media. Some brands have even gone as far as creating spoof commercials and print ads along with their playful posts and tweets.

For example, the P&G brand, “Scope” ran an ad on Facebook promoting their new “Bacon Flavored Mouthwash.” As you can see below, the company created a video spoof and several advertisements with catch phrases such as “Taste breakfast while washing it away” to promote this fictitious new product before they came out with the final phrase, “APRIL FOOLS!”

Another brand having fun with this holiday is the movie rental company, Red Box, who is advertising “Sandwiches at Redbox.”

To keep up with their April Fools promotional efforts, Red Box noted that they will be offering 50 cents off their rentals today only by entering the promo code “APRILFOOLS.”

Virgin Atlantic Airways founder Richard Branson fooled customers in his blog featuring a new “glass-bottom airplane.” (Not for those afraid of heights!)

The main reason marketers have chosen to embrace April Fools Day pranks is to make consumers laugh and create a lasting impression. However, these advertising pranksters may have another prerogative: by playing April Fools jokes via social media, these brands have the opportunity to go viral and target the new generation of social media natives.

I think this is a smart tactic for advertisers as it shows that they can poke fun at themselves while promoting a playful culture that consumers can enjoy. Furthermore, as these spoofs go viral, they are gaining more traffic to their company webpages where actual products can be marketed and sold.

Daniel Kahneman, author of Thinking Fast and Slow introduces the idea that our minds are associative machines where there are two systems at work. While advertisers may be promoting fictitious products to fool consumers, they are also taking advantage of our associative minds. By being playful and enjoying the holiday, consumers may associate these brands with being lighthearted and fun, further promoting a positive brand image.

All in all, these April Fools pranksters have the right idea: using humor in advertising and focusing on building relationships with consumers should lead to a more positive brand image and (hopefully) increasing sales!

Julia Tompkins