April Fools’ Day – the cheekiest pranks by brands

Senior PR consultant Lucy Capaldo looks at the some of best April Fools' pranks from the industry's biggest brands

A lighthearted approach

It’s that time of the year when the news takes a lighter turn and for a little respite, we can all take a break from the endless dirge of Brexit stories and enjoy a bit of nonsense for 12 hours at least.

Today April Fools’ is often used as a PR tool, a clever way for organisations to create content that subtly promotes their brand in a fun and tongue-in-cheek way, showing their brand’s personality and sense of humour.

So who has been milking it? 

A great example for 2019 is NCT Buses, which created a video to promote a new spoof scheme called ‘Milk on the Moove’ which offered travellers the opportunity to buy a pint of fresh milk on their morning commute and pay via the NCT App, courtesy of the cows at Stonebridge City Farm. This April Fools’ tactic cleverly promoted the organisation’s bio-powered bus fleet, whilst also providing a great plug to Stonebridge City Farm. This was a really neat tactic, as it cleverly promoted the business’ environmental credentials, while also creating valuable PR coverage for the farm which has recently had funding problems. They also maintained momentum by creating a follow-up video and confirming a donation of £2,500 to Stonebridge farm as a thank you for its help in making the video.

The beauty bluff

Superdrug created a well-conceived April Fools’ campaign, it invited members of the press to try a new cruelty-free prestige skincare brand ‘L’Etoile.’ The twist? The products were actually Superdrug’s own brand bestsellers repackaged and hiding in plain sight!

No more jokes

The Telegraph ran a mock-serious story where journalist Flora Poil (clue: it’s an anagram), wrote a story entitled ‘April Fool’s jokes banned amid fear of panic buying over Brexit’. The story went on to explain that British April Fools’ jokes have been banned this year under an archaic parliamentary order, amid warnings the public can no longer tell the difference between reality and farce, Ali Ploorf (another anagram), a spokesman for the Cabinet Office, said: “The whole country is on a Code Red for April 1. No one knows what’s real and what’s a joke any more.

“Imagine if some joker goes around a Waitrose in Dover shouting ‘There’s no milk! There’s no avocado!’ It will be pandemonium. So from now on any tomfoolery like this is banned.

“Our message to the public is this: if you hear a spine-tingling warning on the radio about Brexit and leaving without a deal, it’s not a joke – it’s Government policy.”

The end of height fishing

My hands-down favourite of the day though has to be the Tinder’s Height Verification Badge as Tinder puts it perfectly: “Say goodbye to height fishing. Let’s be real, when it comes to online dating — honesty is the best policy. Yes, your height matters as long as every other shallow aspect of physical attraction does. Please try not to take it to heart.

“It’s come to our attention that most of you 5’10ers out there are actually 5’6. The charade must stop. This type of dishonesty doesn’t just hurt your matches — it hurts us, too. Did it ever occur to you that we’re 5’6 and actually love our medium height? Did it ever occur to you that honesty is what separates humans from sinister monsters? Of course not.”

How would the badge work? Users would input their accurate height alongside a screenshot of them standing next to any commercial building. Tinder will then do some state-of-the-art verifying and users will receive a badge directly on their profile.

By Lucy Capaldo

Lucy is a highly experienced communications professional with over 15 years' in-house and agency experience working with a variety of clients, from blue-chip global brands to SMEs. She provides full service expertise from PR strategy, fully integrated communications plans, digital strategies and activation campaigns, copywriting, media relations, crisis communications, industrial relations and internal communications.