Practical Joke Marketing


So many companies are now using April Fools internet pranks to their advantage, and I think it’s a very clever marketing tactic because it gets people talking about them and drives traffic to their sites. Here are some that I saw this past weekend – they’re a lot of fun!

  • Weight Watchers: I got an e-mail from a friend on April 1st. She was forwarding me a recipe from their website – and I must say it looked both gross and fattening, which really surprised me from the company! It was teaching subscribers how to make a crown roast of hotdogs: not terribly diet friendly. Well, as it turned out, it was a joke that the company sent to its participants for April Fools! And what a great strategic marketing move for them to make. When dieters saw how bizarre the recipe was, they were inclined to forward it to their friends, just like my friend sent it to me. That means that these participants were doing the company’s marketing for them!
  • Adblock: I had never heard of Adblock until a tech savvy friend of mine told me to log on and view their April Fools Joke. The company allows you to view webpages without ads, so their prank was to replace that blank space with cats. Everyone likes adorable cats on the internet, so this joke generated a lot of buzz (it was too darn cute!). It was so popular, in fact, that people might be able to get a paid subscription to Catblock!
  • Google/NASCAR: Google and NASCAR used the day to announce their partnership – which would allow self-driving cars to participate in car races! Now, I know that this one is too goofy to be true and that most people probably didn’t buy it, but it does refer back to the self-driving car video that Google recently showcased, so I’ll bet it drove traffic to the video of that technology (and yes, that terrible pun was intended).

Marketing can be very serious, and it’s important for brands to maintain their dignity, but I love that so many took the chance to goof off on April Fools Day. It’s a great conversation starter and it’s what viral marketing is all about. So start planning your prank for next year!

If you want to see some other jokes that companies pulled, check out The Washington Post’s Style Blog by clicking here.


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