In recent years, we have seen more and more companies take a break from reality to enjoy a little bit of lighthearted playtime for April Fool’s marketing. These pranks encompass everything from fake announcements that Taco Bell was buying the Liberty Bell to fake promos for bacon-flavored mouthwash. Jokes like these usually come and go, generating a tiny bit of buzz before companies return to putting on their serious face for the rest of the year.
But why? Why do brands think they have to constantly toe the line and exude a no-nonsense image? Yes, they should hold themselves to a high standard of professionalism when it comes to customer service, product design, service delivery, transparency, and accountability, but nowhere does it say that being a bit silly in your content campaigns will make others think you don’t take their business seriously.
In fact, using humor can make your brand appear approachable, straightforward, and honest, encouraging people to develop relationships with you. So the next time you get inspired leading up to April 1, don’t scrap your ideas just because the date passed you by. Hang on to them for creative content campaigns that are personable and can be consumed in a variety of ways.
April Fools Marketing Shows That Being Silly Sells
Many April Fools stunts are a way for huge brands to take a break and join their community for some fun. Efforts feel shared between audience and creator, like someone handing off a gift to lighten someone’s day. Something as silly and simple as turning Google maps into a Pac-Man level or an 8-bit video game provides an amusing distraction while letting the brand’s personality come alive.
Brands like Google and others therefore use April Fools silliness to add an extra facet to the company. Their stunts communicate “Hey, we get serious work done, but we like to have fun, too!”
Not every brand needs to contextualize their sense of humor like this, though. There are plenty of examples of brands and products that have made their mark precisely because their constant irreverent humor feels refreshing in the face of so many same-y options.
Want a perfect example? Look at Deadpool. The movie that broke box office records and topped revenues for all of 20th Century Fox’s superhero films almost didn’t get made. Top-level executives thought that a wisecracking superhero obsessed with pop culture references and unicorns wouldn’t sell. When they found out they were wrong, the only option was to go all-out on creativity and subversive humor in order to keep the momentum going. Deadpool’s home release included spoofs on other critically acclaimed movies and even a fake VHS announcement. As a result of these campaigns, the release broke records on digital downloads and claimed the top spot in Blu-Ray sales for three weeks in a row.
As another great example, consider Arby’s Instagram and Facebook pages, which have been getting sky-high engagement numbers since the company started using handcrafted art and oodles of geeky references. This post alone, which references the video game Dark Souls 3, garnered 32,000 shares, 9,700 comments and 92,000 likes. An entire segment of the population now has Arby’s back on their radar just because the brand seems to share their love of certain media.
Great Ideas Can Come Out of Letting Your Guard Down
In 2014, one of Google’s April Fools pranks was to hide creatures from the video game Pokémon all around the world on Google Maps, forcing people to click around and find them. Many people thought, “Man! This idea would be great to do walking around in real life!” Lo and behold, the smartphone game Pokémon Go was later born from Google-affiliated company Niantic. Pokémon Go shattered records for downloads and participation last summer. For a few months, it was all anyone could talk about!
Let this success story inspire you to think creatively and confidently in order to try new things. Sure, your company may come out looking a bit silly, but looking foolish is a situation any human can identify with. So have humility, experiment and always take a moment to try fun new things!
If you want help applying creativity to your content campaigns or brand image, you can always consult with Vonazon for ideas, guidance and marketing-as-a-service that can make your brand more loveable than ever.