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April Fools and Digital Marketing: A Match Made in Heaven?

James Perrin

by James Perrin on 2nd April 2012

Laughing at CompSo, another year has passed and some classic April Fools gags have been made (I think Google have won this year with their litany of gags, from the Google 8-Bit Maps for NES to the YouTube collection on DVD).

Looking at April Fools gags of this year and in past years, we establish why they’re so effective. Digital Marketing thrives on good shareable content, so surely April Fools is the perfect time to take advantage? It does also pose the question, are you armed with an Aprils Fools gag for the future? If not, you could be missing a trick.

April Fools 2012

This year, the technology industry was presented with some genius April Fools jokes. There are some great round-ups out there already; Search Engine Watch and TNW amongst many others. It seems as though Google are the ones who take April Fools particularly seriously, and this year has produced a swathe of jokes to launch across the globe. Our favourite had to be Google’s 8-Bit Map for NES. Not only does it have the charm of the low-res graphics and simple controls but it also comes with the timeless soundtrack. Take a look at the map of London below:

This year also saw the ‘launch’ of Google’s Multitask mode. As we all know, Google are forever trying to make things quicker and simpler, and the introduction of ambinavigation means that you can browse the web using both hands, and have the option for multiple cursors on one computer.

Google’s sense of humour doesn’t stop there either, as they even got YouTube in on the act with a DVD containing highlights of YouTube videos, called ‘The YouTube Collection: Viral Highlights’. There was Google’s racing team who partnered with NASCAR to bring the world a fleet of the first ever self-driven racing cars. Finally there was the Gmail tap (binary language of dots and dashes that reduces 26 keys to just 2), Google Street Roo (Panoramic pictures of Australia’s outback taken by more than 1,000 kangaroos) Click-to-teleport (a button that appears on Google’s paid search results that will transport you directly to the business), as well as a whole host of other April Fools Jokes.

April Fools isn’t just a time for Google to have a laugh, as many other tech companies, and indeed the general public are getting involved and using the web to tell us about it. For example Think Geek announced the Electronic Hungry Hippos for iPad, as shown below.

Also, what better way to use the Internet as a platform to get your gag seen? The Metro have put together a list of the Top 5 YouTube videos of 2012 April Fools’ Day Pranks. This does beg the question, if you’ve got something really good to share, why not get in online where everyone can see it? If you’ve seen an excellent April Fool’s joke this year, let us know in the comments section below.

Past April Fools Gags

When you do a little digging, more often than not, it’s Google that come up trumps for gags year-on-year. We at Koozai, however, had our own fun last year when we announced The Search Specialist Movie. As two pharmaceutical companies go head-to-head over the cure of a new disease, they realise the only way to get their message out is through search; where espionage, chaos and action ensues. The synopsis sounded great, and anyone working SEO would have loved to have seen it – I’m sure you would agree.

However, once again it was Google who pulled out all the stops in 2011. Search Engine Land have produced a brilliant round up detailing all of their gags, including the hiring of autocompleters, the chromercise video (helping your fingers keep up with Chrome’s speed, the 100 years of Google Video (with a top 5 viral videos of 1911), the shifting to comic sans font, and much much more.

In 2010, Google ‘announced’ it was changing its name to Topeka in relation to the story that year about Topeka, Kansas renaming itself to Google.

Reddit also got in on the action as they allowed users admin powers, so they can edit headlines, ban other users and vote up stories as much as they like.

A blog post trying to list all of the previous April Jokes can’t do everyone’s efforts complete justice, so if there’s something you’ve found that’s well worth a share then please do so in the comments section. This brings me nicely onto the point of all of this. Why are we fascinated with April Fools jokes, and how can we benefit from them?

April Fools For Digital Marketing

As we’ve seen, it’s not just the general public who are pranking their friends and family; companies and high profile businesses are also getting into the spirit of things once a year for a whole variety of reasons. In the UK, we have a tradition of newspapers and publishers trying to fool their readers regarding bizarre, yet sometimes plausible, stories. I’m sure that’s the case for other countries across the globe too.

For example, in 2010 The Independent announced that the London Underground were in talks with Cern about using old and existing tunnels to house a particle accelerator similar to the existing Hadron Collider in Geneva. Not only is it funny, but it gets people talking about the story as well as the newspaper, which in business terms is fantastic marketing. Since the advent of the Internet, this also means getting additional traffic to their site.

That’s why so many more businesses and brands are beginning to take advantage of April Fools as a great way to interact and engage with new and existing customers, just like Starbucks did with their new coffee sizes. It’s a bit of fun and a great way to get your story or ideas shared via social media and across the globe. If you’ve got something good to say, people will listen, and share with their friends and family; and for digital marketing, that’s what companies strive for, because all of this generates additional interest in your brand, it strengthens links and can also direct traffic to your website.

So, with this in mind, have you established a great idea for April Fools 2013? Obviously you don’t want to do anything that’s too damaging to your brand, but by putting a plan together well in advance you will have time to execute your April Fools for next year.

What do you think? Does April Fools present a perfect opportunity for brands to have a little fun? Or do you think it’s just a waste of time where companies won’t achieve real value or a good return on the time they’ve invested? Have your say below.

Image Source

Group of happy friends laughing together with digital tablet via BigStock

James Perrin

James Perrin

Content Marketing Manager, James Perrin is a regular contributor to the Koozai blog. Well experienced in sales and marketing, James also has a passion for journalism and media, especially new media. From the latest industry related new stories to copywriting advice, James will provide you with plenty of digital marketing information.

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