News and insights • Posted on 06 April 2017

Have big brands become the April Fools?

April Fools’ day – the 1st April has been a veritable source of entertainment for Dads and Uncles fond of really crap jokes for decades, as well as partners feigning pregnancy in the hope it causes a mini coronary.

However, the craze of playing a trick on people has now spread to big brands, which are creating ever-more elaborate campaigns each year in order to trick their loyal fans. Much of the time these are simply unbelievable, outlandish, and sometimes downright silly parodies that you know cannot be true.

For example, take McDonald’s ‘Micro Mac’ (sacrilege), Google blowing the rain away in Holland using ‘Google Wind’, and Virgin Atlantic harnessing ‘flapenergy’ with their new Dreambird 1417. All three are ridiculous ideas, but you can’t help but smile and think ‘what if?’

And yet, as we venture into a world where video and VR are becoming more popular, it’s allowing brands to be more extravagant, more immersive, and create April Fools’ products that people actually want. Take, for example, this brand new language course – Learn Emoji in just 5 minutes a day.

The course, by language aficionados Duolingo, is designed to bring the older generations up to date with over 2 billion millennials across the globe that are fluent in Emoji. Of course, it’s all a sham, but take the quick picture flip course and you’ll definitely have a better understanding of those Emoji’s. If you’re reading this and you’re like my parents, it might be worth a modicum of your time… They even wrote and released a clever, Emoji filled, press release to accompany it.

And then the doozy of April Fools’ Day, IGN’s trailer for a live action, AMC produced, Grand Theft Auto TV series. Not only did it look AWESOME, but it gave an insight into just what video game fans pretty much everywhere were craving. They even brought back the actor who played Trevor to do a voice over.

You might ask what the point of this fake video, and these fake campaigns, is, but then you look at the numbers for the GTA one…

  • 1.2million views on Facebook

  • 25,000 interactions


  • Over 1 million views on YouTube

  • Over 20,000 likes on YouTube

Those figures are staggering. If you think about it, it’s just like any other marketing campaign, but probably more effective thanks to the controversial nature of it being a fraud. To put it into context, IGN’s YouTube videos normally hit the 15,000 – 60,000 views mark, which isn’t too shabby. But think of the revenue increase from ads on that GTA video alone.

Not only that, but it has spread their name far and wide, and gained them untold links on major websites adding to their page rank and domain authority. And that is the benefit – despite the fact it is a phony, they have produced a good piece of content that their target market wants to see, which has been shared and gained them valuable links.

Fake or not, you’d have to say that when the numbers are that good, these April Fools’ campaigns can be well worth the effort when it comes to SEO. Maybe they’re not fools after all…

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Written by Kara Clifford

Design perfectionist Kara adds creative flair to all our projects. Her skills lie in print, branding and moving image.

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