Bacon Mouthwash: How to Pull Off an April Fool’s Prank

This blog comes from Beverley Reinemann, one of Distilled's own Outreach Specialists. 

I know what you’re thinking.  

Ok, not really, I’m not that good...


I’ll rephrase.  

I know what you’re probably thinking: putting your time, effort and money into creating a marketing campaign centered around a big, fat lie is a waste of time, right? I mean, why would you lie to your customers? Wouldn’t that harm the brand image you’ve worked so hard at maintaining?

Yes, maybe. I mean, flat out lying to potential clients is something I’d pretty much always advise against. After all, you’re a business and you want to do right by your clients.

But there’s one day of the year when it’s actually ok to bend the truth a bit: April Fool’s Day.

Now, we’re not talking about average pranks here. I’m not suggesting you start covering toilet seats with cling wrap or swapping everyone’s sugar for salt because, let’s face it, that’s not going to get your brand effective media coverage.  

If you want to showcase your business’s sense of humour and your creative thinking though, here are a few things to consider.

Show customers that you don’t take yourself too seriously

This is the most important factor in your April Fool’s Day marketing campaign. If you’re not willing to let go a little and let the public see that, shock horror, your brand actually has a sense of humour then don’t bother.

A great example of this is Scope who, for April Fool’s Day 2013, announced a brand new product in their line of mouthwashes: bacon flavoured mouthwash. Bacon flavoured mouthwash, people.  

Afterwards they thanked their customers for giving them the courage to laugh at themselves and encouraged people to ‘wash away that bacon taste’ with their actual mint mouthwash.

Give away your products for free (just don’t tell anyone you’re going to)

When daily golf deal site launched an origami golf ball in 2011 and saw an 80% increase in email subscribers they decided to recreate this campaign the year after (Insta-course anyone?) and the year after that. The results? An average of 140% increase in site traffic. Not bad for a few jokes, right?  

But what about the people who actually bought the products? Simple: Divot rewarded them with an array of golf equipment and accessories, including the prank product – a great way of turning an April Fool’s campaign into a customer acquisition strategy.

Ask yourself if your brand is big enough

There’s a reason why there’s a lot of media hype about big brands’ April Fool’s campaigns every year: we love seeing them doing something different, something silly. They get coverage because they’re huge brands. So before you start thinking of a great prank that will win over even the most cynical of customers, ask yourself whether you have a large enough audience to give it legs.  

Use it to promote something

Using humour to promote a real product or initiative around April Fool’s Day is something that Samsung did really well in 2013 when they announced Eco Trees: “a smart, eco-friendly air purifier that runs on solar energy”.

Wait, an eco-friendly air purifier powered by light from the sun that releases oxygen, produces a natural fragrance and is suitable for climbing? Samsung you’re blowing my mind here.

Blowing my mind because it’s so freakin’ obvious that this is a joke.

What wasn’t a joke, though, was the sustainability initiative that Samsung used this joke to promote, mentioning it at the bottom of their announcement and tying it in with Earth Day.

‘Launch’ something that, let’s face it, would be pretty awesome in real life

Three words: glass bottomed plane. Seriously Virgin, I don’t think I’d care about using the holdall underneath the plane to check luggage ever again if I could get a bird’s eye view of the world.

Don’t let it slip

Everyone in your marketing team will hate you forever.

Get a second opinion

There’s a huge difference between what you might think is funny and what clients and the media might think is funny. Get a second opinion from people you trust outside of your organisation and save yourself the embarrassment of having an April Fool’s campaign do more harm than good for your brand.

‘Launch’ something completely bizarre

Remember when Google introduced Google Nose BETA, allowing people “the sharpest olfactory experience available”? It was so bizarre that everyone knew it was just another in their ever-growing list of April Fool’s Day pranks.

That didn’t stop people talking about it though.

Is google nose legit .png

Be prepared

Carrying out an awesome April Fool’s marketing campaign is more than just thinking of an awesome idea and seeing what happens. Like with all successful marketing, you need a well thought out plan which you can integrate across all of your marketing channels.

You’ll need to include your social media team, perhaps build a specific page on your site for your new product. You’ll also need to have a spokesperson ready to give a quote or interview at a moment’s notice.

And definitely don’t forget your PR and outreach team; they’re the ones with access to journalists and bloggers and will be your best chance at getting media coverage.

And if all else fails…

Start a college especially for cats.  

Now, over to you, readers. What do you think of April Fool's Day campaigns? Are they a good idea or recipe for disaster? Tell Beverley in the comments below.

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